Former Lawmaker Says Khamenei Pushed 'Strategic' Agreement With China | Iran International

Former Lawmaker Says Khamenei Pushed 'Strategic' Agreement With China

A former Iranian lawmaker has said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the initiator of the controversial 25-year “strategic agreement” with China that was signed on Saturday in Tehran.

Mansoor Haghighatpour, a former deputy chairman of parliament’s national security committee told a local website that Khamenei tasked former parliament speaker Ali Larijani to pursue a long-term agreement with China.

The lawmaker also said that the reason for not publishing the signed document is insistence by the Chinese side not to attract the attention of the United States, since the accord has a “defense aspect”. The Chinese asked the Iranian side “not to reveal the agreement”, he said and added that “China and other countries have challenges in their relations with America” and Iran cannot be transparent.

After the signing of the agreement there has been a public outcry about keeping the contents secret and accusations that the Islamic Republic “has sold out” Iran’s national interests.

Iran and China have called the long-tern agreement a “roadmap” and the Iranian side insists it includes no specific deals or any monetary figures. However, some officials have claimed China will invest $400 billion in Iran. Critics say that Tehran will become indebted to Beijing and will cede ports as well the right for China to station troops on Iranian soil.

Haghighatpour said “China has money, and we have [offer] possibilities.”

China was not violating sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, but started to buy large quantities of Iranian oil before the US presidential elections and recently has signaled it will conduct its relations with Iran as it wishes.

Iraqi President Says His Country Should Not Be A Proxy Battleground

Iraq should not be used as a proxy battleground by others, President Barham Salih told the media in New York, where he is due to address the UN General Assembly.

"We want to have stable, peaceful relations with our neighbors, with Iran, sovereign state to a sovereign state. That will also mean for the Turks, that will mean for the Saudis, for the others. Using Iraq as a proxy zone is not going to work for anybody,” Salih said on Wednesday.

Iran has organized thousands of Iraqi Shiite militiamen and has established influence over many politicians in Iraq. Its proxies have been attacking American forces in the past three years. In January 2020, the US killed Iran’s top Middle East operative, General Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.

While condemning proxy conflict on its soil, Salih also underlined the importance of its relationship with Iran, saying, "we cannot but recognize the importance of this relationship, and we should not be shy about or hesitant about acknowledging the importance of Iraq's relationship with Iran."

Salih also acknowledged the US government's vital long-term commitment to a strong and stable Iraq.

"America remains important. America is a global power, as I say, the pre-eminent power, undeniably so. But it is about our own destiny and we have to take charge of it," Salih said.

 

'Very Clear Intent' By Iran To Return To Nuclear Talks, Ireland Says

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Iran's foreign minister expressed a "very clear intent" to return to nuclear talks in Vienna, Ireland's foreign minister said on Wednesday after meeting with his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

"That may not happen for a number of weeks, as the new Iranian government finalizes their approach towards those negotiations. But certainly, he expressed a very clear intent to return to those negotiations," Simon Coveney, Ireland's foreign minister, told reporters.

Ireland is currently a member of the U.N. Security Council and coordinates the 15-member body's work on a 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018.

Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which then started breaching curbs on its nuclear program. Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes only.

The Vienna talks were adjourned in June after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran's president. The Iranian foreign ministry said on Tuesday that those would resume in a few weeks, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

In a video statement, Raisi told the annual gathering https://www.reuters.com/world/no-iran-nuclear-deal-ministers-meeting-un-... of world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday that Tehran wants to resume nuclear talks with world powers that would lead to removal of U.S. sanctions.

Saudi king Tells UN Kingdom Supports Efforts To Prevent Nuclear Iran

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that his kingdom supports efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, as world leaders prepare to resume talks with Tehran to reinstate a 2015 nuclear pact.

"The kingdom insists on the importance of keeping the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, on this basis we support international efforts aiming at preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons," he said in a pre-recorded video address to the annual gathering.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, leading Shi'ite and Sunni powers in the Middle East, have been rivals for years, backing allies fighting proxy wars in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. They cut diplomatic ties in 2016 but have been holding talks this year aimed at reducing tensions.

"Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to concrete results to build confidence ... based on... respect of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs," King Salman said.

On Tuesday, the Saudi foreign minister met with his Iranian counterpart during the General Assembly, according to Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency.

In his address, King Salman said Yemen's Houthis were rejecting peaceful initiatives to end the war and that Saudi Arabia would defend itself against ballistic missiles and armed drones. Hothis are backed by Iran.

Reporting by Reuters

US And Israel Hold Secret Talks On Iran: Report

The United States held a secret meeting with Israel last week to discuss a Plan B in case the Iran nuclear talks do not resume or if world powers fail to reach an agreement with Tehran over reviving the nuclear deal, Axios reported on Wednesday. They met as a part of a working group called ‘Opal,’ which was established during the Obama administration as a channel for Washington and Jerusalem to discuss Iran strategy.

Axios separately reported that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region in the coming days.

According to the report, US officials who participated in the conversations stressed their readiness to impose additional sanctions on Iran if the talks do not resume soon.

This meeting comes at an important time after European officials were pushing for a ministerial session of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)’s Joint Commission on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, which is now not scheduled to happen. However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry and the EU high representative for foreign affairs have indicated nuclear talks could resume soon. No date has been announced.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been pushing the Biden administration to develop a Plan B. However, during his speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden stressed his readiness to return to the nuclear deal and resume full compliance if Iran does the same without mentioning any deadline or alternative options being considered.

Iran And Regional Diplomats Gather During UN General Assembly

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly opening on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his counterparts from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, France, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and the secretaries-general of the Arab League, Islamic Cooperation Organization, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The meeting was dubbed the “Baghdad Multilateral Meeting” after Iraq hosted a conference in August, which brought these regional players together, in a rare gathering.

Mehr News Agency quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying, “we have always emphasized that we need endogenous and indigenous security arrangements to create stability and security in the region. Foreign presence and intervention in any form are contrary to the goals of peace and security in the region.”

“I emphasize once again that the priority of the new government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to strengthen and develop relations with its neighbors and the region, and I hope that such meetings will bring about a new chapter of cooperation and participation of people of the region for peace,” he added. Those gathered at the meeting agreed to convene again in Jordan, but no date was announced, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been holding an ongoing dialogue over regional tensions. Yet at the same time, attacks by Iran-backed Houthis on Saudi Arabia have continued—with armed drones and ballistic missiles repeatedly being launched at the Kingdom.

Houthis Celebrate In North Yemen As Their Forces Push South

Thousands of supporters of Yemen's Houthis rallied in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the ousting of the government, as the group's fighters pushed through frontlines in oil-producing regions of the country.

The Iran-aligned movement swept into the capital and most of north Yemen in 2014 when they ousted the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the war in 2015 to try to restore Hadi's government to power but the conflict has dragged on, killing tens of thousands and causing the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

A vast crowd of supporters thronged Sanaa's central public squares waving the red, white and black national colours, and chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States. Some carried signs that read "Death to America".

"These are glorious days in Yemen's history, it's like we are born again because we rose up... against the aggressors," said one protester, Hamdi Ziyad.

Houthi leader Khaled al-Madani told the cheering crowd that it was the anniversary of "freedom and independence".

Iranian government-controlled media on Wednesday expressed jubilation at what it described as Houthi military success in Yemen, saying one more town in Marib region has fallen.

Houthis prepare a man to be executed at Tahrir Square in Sanaa, Yemen September 18, 2021.

 

The Houthis executed nine men on Saturday following their conviction for involvement in his killing, causing a global outcry.

 

With reporting by Reuters

Iran Guards Commander Says 'Enemy Suffers From Mental Decline'

Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, General Hossein Salami has said that “the enemy suffers from strategic ambiguity and mental decline” in the face of resistance by the Islamic Republic.

In a speech on Wednesday Salami said: The enemy is caught between two bad choices. If it stays it will pay a high price, and if it leaves that would be a retreat. If the enemy stays in Yemen, it will be defeated and if it leaves, that would be desertion.”

In the Islamic Republic jargon “enemy” means the United States and its allies, such as Israel or Saudi Arabia.

Salami who often makes boastful statements went on to say that Iran has defeated the US economic sanctions, has achieved political successes, and has defeated the enemy “in psychological warfare”.

The IRGC commander claimed that “America has been defeated even in tactical sense. The most modern army in the world has retreated from Afghanistan, leaving behind most of its weapons.”

Iranian media on Wednesday expressed jubilation at what it described as Houthi military success in Yemen, saying one more town in Marib region has fallen. Iran has backed the Houthis, providing weapons, drones and missiles to the rebel group that is fighting a Saudi-led coalition.

 

IRGC Navy Holds Parade With Hundreds Of Fishing Boats

In an unorthodox military move, Iran’s Navy conducted a naval parade in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday using hundreds of local fishing boats and its military speed boats.

The parade was on the 41st anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war that the Islamic Republic calls “Holy defense”. Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard presided over the naval parade that took place in the Bandar Abbas region.

Naval parade of "Baseej" fishing boats in Bandar Abbas, September 22, 20121

The local fishing boats are dubbed by the Iranian military as “naval Baseej” or paramilitary, as regular Baseej (Basij) under IRGC’s command is known throughout Iran. One naval commander told local media that 650 civilian boats took part in the show.

It is not clear what kind of a military role the “naval Baseej” can play. It is made up of slow-moving fishing boats with civilian crews, lacking proper military training or heavy weapons.

Lacking a strong navy capable of facing US naval power, Iran has been relying on speed boats that have often come close to US vessels to show their defiance. Iran has also been developing various missiles and drones to beef up its naval power.

Iran Says Ready To Buy Pfizer Vaccines 9 Months After Khamenei's Ban

Iran has decided to import two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine made in Belgium nine months after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned the purchase of American and British Covid-19 vaccines.

An official of Iran’s Food and Drug Administration told Tasnim news agency on Tuesday that the government intends to buy the Pfizer vaccines if it can transfer the money, given US banking sanctions on Iran.

Khamenei banned the importation of American and British vaccines in January saying that he does not trust the United States and the United Kingdom. He brought up a conspiracy theory that the West can manipulate the vaccines to destroy “the Iranian gene”.

After a fourth and a fifth wave of the pandemic killed tens of thousands of people, the Islamic Republic in August changed course, saying that Khamenei had only banned vaccines made in US and UK, and if manufactured in other countries, it can be imported.

Iran’s claims that it can produce its own domestic vaccines also proved to be unrealistic, despite huge investments by the government.

Until the end of April, the United States never exported vaccines made in the US, supplying international markets from production plants overseas, but Iran still refused to place orders. As a result, its vaccination program seriously lagged behind until this month when China began shipping large quantities of its vaccines.

Iran Releases Dissident Rapper On Bail After Social Media Outcry

Prosecutors in Iran on Tuesday freed a dissident rap singer from jail on bail after whose arrest led to a social media storm and controversy among Iranian activists and journalists abroad.

Toomaj Salehi an underground rapper living near Esfahan was arrested reportedly by Iran’s intelligence ministry on September 13. After a few days the family and his lawyer found out that he was in Esfahan’s central prison and charged with propaganda against the regime.

Toomaj had recently released a song, “Buy a Rat Hole”, on social media that harshly criticized the Islamic Republic for its violations of human rights and also those that he said were aiding the regime in covering up its crimes. The song’s title and lyrics implied that people applying or supporting injustice one day must answer for their crimes.

Some journalists abroad accused the rapper of threatening those who cover up the government's injustices, while others said such an accusation could endanger the artist's life.

Thousands of Iranians on social media condemned his arrest and Amnesty International demanded his immediate release in a statement on September 17.

In a video Toomaj released immediately after he was freed, he thanked all those who supported him, and he expressed astonishment that his arrest had led to a large public outcry.

Iran Wants Nuclear Talks That Lead To Lifting Of US Sanctions -Raisi

Iran wants a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers to lead to the removal of US sanctions, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) told the annual UN General Assembly on Tuesday in a pre-recorded address.

"The Islamic Republic considers the useful talks whose ultimate outcome is the lifting of all oppressive (US) sanctions," Raisi said in his address.

Hardline cleric Raisi, who is under personal US sanctions over allegations of human rights abuses in his past as a judge, said the US sanctions, imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, "were crimes against humanity during the coronavirus pandemic."

The official government news website IRNA quoted Raisi as saying, the January events at the US Capitol and images of Afghans falling from American planes in Kabul sent a message to the people of the world that “America’s domination both at home and abroad is not credible.”

Harsh sanctions reimposed by Trump since 2018 have prompted Tehran to violate the deal's limits. However, Tehran says its nuclear steps are reversible if Washington lifts all sanctions.

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States to revive the 2015 nuclear pact stopped two days after Raisi was elected as Iran's president in June. Parties involved in the negotiations have yet to announce when the next round of negotiations will resume. However, Tehran said on Tuesday that talks with world powers in Vienna to reinstate the nuclear pact would resume in a few weeks.

Biden Says US Will Prevent Iran From Getting Nukes, But Ready To talk

The United States will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, President Joe Biden told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York, at the same time reiterating his intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal.

The President who pledged to rely on diplomacy in international affairs, said, “The United States remains committed to preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.  We are working with the P5+1 to engage Iran diplomatically and seek a return to the JCPOA.  We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same.”

Biden during last year’s presidential campaign repudiated president Donald Trump’s decision to leave the 2015 nuclear agreement and pledged to return to it if Iran stopped its retaliatory activities since 2019 violating the deal.

His administration entered indirect talks with Iran in April to reach an agreement on how the two sides could restore the JCPOA, but the talks so far have failed to make a breakthrough.

Diplomats were expecting a meeting of JCPOA members this week in New York, but since Monday both the European Union and Iran have said only bilateral talks would take place. Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is scheduled to meet his French and British counterparts.