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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

Netanyahu Demands World Powers Punish Iran for Ballistic Missile Violations

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry on Saturday night to contact the six major world nations who signed a nuclear deal with Tehran and “demand immediate punitive measures be taken in the wake of Iran’s repeated and gross violations on the missiles issue.

“This is an important step in and of itself, and is also a test of the major powers in enforcing the nuclear agreement,” Netanyahu said.

The statement followed a series of Iranian military weapons tests last week that ended with Tehran crowing that it could now reach Israel with a long-range ballistic missile capable of destroying the Jewish State. The Islamic Republic even inscribed the missiles with a message in Hebrew that read, “Must destroy Israel.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari claimed Thursday (March 10) the missile drills did not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) nuclear agreement between Tehran and the six major world powers.

Speaking to journalists, the spokesperson said the missile exercises also did not go against Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council.

“Despite some Western allegations, the ballistic missiles fired in the nationwide exercises did not violate the JCPOA or the UN Resolution 2231.

“The short- medium- and long-range ballistic missiles fired during the drills were for deterrence and defense,” he said. “None of them could carry nuclear warheads, which by the way, is not in Iran’s defense doctrine,” he added.

Israeli intelligence experts said, however, the long-range ballistic missiles tested on Wednesday were indeed capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Ansari claimed that Tehran had issued a statement following the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the JCPOA, which stipulated, “Iran will continue to take the necessary measures to strengthen its defense capabilities in order to protect its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity against any aggression and to counter the menace of terrorism in the region.

“In this context, Iranian military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, are exclusively for legitimate defense. They have not been designed for WMD capability, and are thus outside the purview or authority of the Security Council resolution and its annexes.”

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) began the ballistic missile exercises last Tuesday, March 8. Called ‘Eqtedar-e Velayat‘, the command, tactical and special exercises were intended to test advanced missile defense systems as well as “showcase the deterrence power and the clout of the IRGC forces in defending the country’s territorial integrity against foreign threats,” according to the semi-official FARS news agency.

The drills were held in different geographical locations, using ballistic missiles fired from silos in Central Iran and mountain ranges in the North. The IRGC also fired two Iranian-made “Qadr H” ballistic missiles from the Eastern Alborz Mountains as part of ongoing IRGC drills.

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted by FARS on Wednesday as saying Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles can fly 400 kilometers above the ground to hit targets at 2,000 kilometers “within 12 to 13 minutes.”

Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon sent an urgent letter to members of the UN Security Council this weekend calling for condemnation of Tehran’s test launch of the ballistic missiles this week.

“Iran continues to disregard its obligations to UN resolutions,” Danon wrote. “This latest provocation makes it clear that the ‘smile campaign’ of the current regime is nothing more than a smokescreen to disguise the real intentions of the ayatollah regime.”

Danon added that the missile tests were “a gross violation” of Security Council resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear agreement and which restricts Iran from launching missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Hana Levi Julian

Rouhani Wins Tehran in Iran’s Election for Assembly of Experts

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his allies won 15 of the 16 seats for Tehran in the Assembly of Experts, the state news agency IRNA reported Monday.

The 16th seat went to Ahmad Jannati, a known hardliner.

The Assembly of Experts is the 88-member clerical body tasked with choosing Iran’s next Supreme Leader – the country’s most powerful position.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia: No S-300 Deliveries Until Iran Pays the Bill

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson has flatly denied reports from Tehran that a delivery of the S-300 anti-missile defense system is due to arrive from Moscow this week.

The spokesperson told the TASS news agency that Iranian claims the first batch would arrive Thursday are “out of the question.” He said on Wednesday, “The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price written in the contract as of Feb. 16.”

Last week, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan told international media the first shipment of the S-300 systems would arrive within the next two months.

The S-300 is a long-range surface-to-air missile designed to intercept aircraft and cruise missiles. The most advanced versions of the system can also target ballistic missiles.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari claimed earlier in the week that a shipment of the system is already on its way to Tehran.

A Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation told TASS in December 2015, “The contract is in action.” But it was the Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai, who claimed in November 2015 that Iran was already receiving the first S-300 systems.

These claims and denials have been going back and forth for months, but at the end of the day, Iran has yet to receive the system and it is not at all clear whether Tehran has paid for it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the S-300 system poses no threat to Israel. He was quoted in an article published in the April 2015 edition of Russia Today as saying the system “will not put at risk the security of any state in the region, including Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

European Airlines Flying Back to Iran

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

European airlines are flying back to Iran this spring, with British Airlines leading the way — although its corporate office tried very hard to convince media otherwise.

Deputy Aviation and International Affairs Chief of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said Wednesday the UK carrier will resume London-Tehran flights in two months, quoting BA representatives from a visit on Tuesday.

British Airways (BA) CEO Willie Walsh told media two days ago that BA officials were “very interested in flying to Tehran and we are hopeful that it will form part of BA’s network in the very near future. We are actively looking at it as a destination,” he told the International Business Times. Other Heathrow slots are likely to be dropped in order to way for the service, which was stopped in 2012, a spokesperson had said.

“The related memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries ‘a while ago,’” Mohammad Khoda-Karami told the semi-official IRNA news agency.

He added that Spanish, Japanese and Malaysian (Air Asia) airlines have announced readiness to resume direct flights to Iran on a regular weekly basis.

A separate government official had earlier announced that Iran welcomes aviation cooperation “with all countries, save for the Zionist regime’s El Al airlines.”

The state-owned IRAN daily newspaper reported Thursday that Air France and KLM Airlines of Netherlands are on track to resume flights to Tehran this April. Both airlines had already announced the new route back in December.

“Air France is showing its ambition to develop itself in a country with dynamic growth and for which the European Union is Iran’s fourth economic partner,” the company said in a statement. France has a long history of commercial, political and social links with the Islamic Republic of Iran, dating back to the 1970s, when then-revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei lived near Paris.

“We’re happy to welcome you in our new AIRFRANCE KLM office in central Tehran,” announces a new website displaying a map with an address, phone numbers, hours and an email address – but little else. “We’re swapping our old office space for brand new, bright and spacious facilities to make you, our passengers, most comfortable from the moment you book your flights.”

 

Iran Air has been flying three times a week to London and twice a week each to Amsterdam and Paris.

 

In 2008 European airlines stopped flying to Iran after international and U.S. sanctions were imposed on the country in response to its defiance of United Nations nuclear mandates.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Vessels Seized in Persian Gulf, Held by Iran

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Ten crew members of two U.S. Navy vessels were picked up by the Iranian Coast Guard on Tuesday while in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state-run FARS News reported the two vessels were two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Iranian territorial waters. Nine men and one woman are being held, according to EA Worldview.

The incident occurred while the two crews were trying to sort out mechanical trouble with one of the boats near Farsi Island, in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that both crews and vessels were being held by Tehran.

However, “We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

A senior American official said Secretary of State John Kerry “personally engaged with [Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad] Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome.”

The boats were in the process of traveling between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base, EA Worldview reported.

Senior U.S. military officials said the boats were on a training mission Tuesday night when one vessel lost power and drifted into Iranian territorial waters.

One official said the Iranians ‘understand the territorial incursion was not deliberate’ and have agreed to release the Americans in international waters within hours.

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel.

“We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey,” the unnamed American official said.

Less than a month ago, Iran fired a rocket towards U.S. vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Hana Levi Julian

Bahrain, UAE, Sudan Join Saudi Arabia, Sever Ties with Shi’ite Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Several Gulf Arab nations and at least one African country have downgraded their ties with Shi’ite Iran after Saudi Arabia cut its ties with the Islamic Republic, with the possibility that more may follow.

The move came after a Tehran mob stormed and torched the Saudi Arabian embassy and consulate buildings. In response, Saudi Arabia suspended all air traffic between the two countries. A letter was also immediately sent to the United Nations Security Council, accusing Iran of failing to protect the Saudi embassy.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Jaberi Ansari denied the charges, saying no Saudi diplomats were harmed in the incident; he added that none were even present during the attack.

He neatly sidestepped the fact that the building was torched and that all the interior furnishings were completely smashed by the mob that stormed the building. Instead, Ansari claimed Saudi Arabia was “looking for some excuses to pursue its own unwise policies to further tension in the region.”

But Iranian security personnel did nothing to stop the destruction of the embassy until after the embassy offices were completely smashed; at which point, authorities called for “calm.”

The destruction of the diplomatic properties came in response to Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric on Saturday. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was one of a total of 47 who were executed on charges of terrorism.

Nimr was known as a vocal activist who opposed the Saudi regime, and who led a vigorous Shi’ite Muslim minority movement in Sunni Muslim-led Saudi Arabia. Iran threatened at the time of the execution that Saudi Arabia would “pay dearly” for Nimr’s death.

By Sunday, Saudi Arabia had cut its ties with Iran and expelled the ambassador, giving him 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The United Arab Emirates and the island nation of Bahrain – Sunni-ruled monarchies – also both notified Iranian diplomats they had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and announced it would reduce the number of diplomats stationed in Iran, according to the WAM state news agency. The government said in a statement, the UAE “has taken this exceptional step in light of Iran’s ongoing interference in internal [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Arab affairs that has recently reached unprecedented levels.”

Iran was was also accused by Bahraini officials of “increasing, flagrant and dangerous meddling” in the affairs of Gulf states – again, not the first time Iran has been accused of such activity. A similar charge was leveled against the Islamic Republic during the Arab Spring revolutions, when Tehran was accused of stirring uprisings among Shi’ite populations within the Sunni-led kingdoms and emirates. Bahrain also severed its ties with Iran.

Likewise, the majority Sunni Muslim nation of Sudan also expressed its disapproval of the Iranian attack on the Saudi embassy, calling the mob action “barbaric”. As with Bahrain and the UAE, Sudan also severed its diplomatic ties with Iran, expelling the Iranian ambassador and the entire Iranian diplomatic mission from the country. Sudan also recalled its own ambassador from Tehran.

Russia and China have now both released statements calling for “restraint” on the parts of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both have expressed concern about escalation of tensions in the region, and have asked both parties to work together to “safeguard the region’s peace and stability.”

Hana Levi Julian

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Iran, Gives 48 Hours for Iranian Diplomats to Leave Kingdom

Monday, January 4th, 2016

The two mighty Middle Eastern Muslim powers are now officially and publicly at each other’s throats, and their minor minions are lining up alongside the major powers, as the sunni Muslim Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, Jan. 3.

The final straw, at least for the Saudis, was the storming of the KSA’s Embassy in Tehran and its Consulate in Mashhad by Iranian protesters on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Those protests, in turn, were at least ostensibly motivated by the execution of a popular Shiite Muslim Cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The cleric had led protests against unequal treatment of Shias in an eastern part of the KSA, where the majority of Saudi Shiites are concentrated.

The Kingdom recalled its diplomats on Sunday, all of whom arrived in Dubai later that day, according to the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir. The Saudi Foreign Minister gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave Saudi Arabia.

Protesters began rioting outside the Saudi Embassy on Saturday, then hurled Molotov cocktails, and eventually stormed the building, smashing furniture and setting fires. The protesters burned pictures of the Saudi king. A slightly less violent riot broke out the following day at the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad, in the Khorasan province of Iran.

The governments of both countries verbally attacked the other for supporting terrorism and being oppressive regimes. Each government has executed hundreds of prisoners over the past several years.

The Egyptian, Jordanian and Kuwaiti governments condemned the breaches of the Saudi diplomatic compounds, and the United Arab Emirates summoned the Iranian Ambassador to protest Iran’s “interference in Saudi internal matters,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

And Iranian supporters such as Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, criticized Saudi Arabia for executing Nimr, which he said “shows the real oppressive, terrorist and criminal face of the Saudi regime.”

Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, described Nimr’s execution as an “unjust aggression,” and the former prime minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki, said that Nimr’s will be the downfall of the Gulf kingdom’s government.

Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei called Nimr a “martyr” who acted peacefully.

The United Nation’s top human rights official, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, also criticized Saudi Arabia for the 47 executions which took place on Saturday, including Nimr’s.

There have been more than 750 executions in Iran since the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013.

Nimr had been sentenced to death by a Saudi court in October of last year. He was arrested in 2012 for his role in anti-government protests, including at the start of the Arab Spring protests. His trial began in the spring of 2014.

In response to the executions in Saudi Arabia and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Iran, the U.S. called for restraint.

The State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. government “reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases.” He expressed concern that the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric would “exacerbate sectarian tensions” at a time when they “urgently need to be reduced.”

The statement ended with a predictable exhortation to all “leaders throughout the region to redouble efforts aimed at de-escalating regional tensions.” No doubt that will do the trick.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/saudi-arabia-cuts-ties-with-iran-gives-48-hours-for-iranian-diplomats-to-leave-kingdom/2016/01/04/

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