Hardliner Cleric Wants To Deny Access To Internet To Prevent 'Lust' | Iran International

Hardliner Cleric Wants To Deny Access To Internet To Prevent 'Lust'

A hardliner cleric in Iran has called on the new president Ebrahim Raisi to deny young people access to the Internet to stop the intrusion of alien cultures.

Ahmad Khatami, who is also a member of the constitutional watchdog the Guardian Council said Saturday that “When our youth have access to all the cyberspace of other countries, it means that the culture of others lives in the homes of all Iranians.

Khatami’s comment about the youth having free access contradicts the existing reality. Iran heavily censors access to the Internet by blocking tens of thousands of Iranian and other websites both for political and religious reasons. Almost every citizen uses VPNs and other software to get access to their favorite social media channels and websites for information or entertainment.

Iran has been trying to create an internal internet and social media platforms that it can easily control and censor, but so far it has not succeeded. Instagram for example, is an effective tool for small businesses to promote their products and services and receive orders.

Khatami, however, once again demanded that under Raisi the government should “domesticate” the internet, claiming that all countries have restricted access, citing the example of Russia. In fact, China has restricted access to social media and the internet. Major platforms are still available in Russia.

Khatami accused the United States of trying to instill “lust” among Iranian youth.

US Says Window Open For Iran Nuclear Talks But Won't Be Forever

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The window is still open to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal but Tehran has yet to indicate whether it is willing to resume talks in Vienna or whether it would do so on the basis of where they left off in June, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The official told reporters on condition of anonymity that Washington's patience would not last forever but declined to set a deadline, saying this depended on technical progress in Iran's nuclear program and a wider judgment by the United States and its partners on whether Iran was willing to revive the deal.

"We're still interested. We still want to come back to the table," the senior U.S. State Department official said in a telephone briefing. "The window of opportunity is open. It won't be open forever if Iran takes a different course."

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its uranium enrichment program, a possible pathway to nuclear arms, in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Former President Donald Trump quit the deal three years ago and re-imposed harsh sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors that have crippled its economy, prompting Iran to take steps to violate its nuclear limits.

The U.S. official declined to say what the United States might do if Iran refuses to return to negotiations, or if a resumption of the original deal proves impossible. Such U.S. contingency planning is often referred to as "Plan B."

"The 'Plan B' that we're concerned about is the one that Iran may be contemplating, where they want to continue to build their nuclear program and not be seriously engaged in talks to return to the JCPOA," he said, in a reference to the deal's formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Yemen's Houthis Near Marib City, Eyeing Gas And Oil Fields

DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Houthi military forces are intensifying their push towards the central Yemeni city of Marib, which is held by the Saudi-backed government, and are stepping up fighting in the south, Houthi group and Yemeni military sources said on Thursday.

After recent advances and fierce fighting, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group's fighters were on the western outskirts of Marib city and pushing up on other fronts having inflicted many casualties in recent months.

A Yemeni government military source said Houthi forces are around 18 km west of Marib city, but the main fighting has been in the southern region of Shabwa, which has several oil fields and the country's sole liquified natural gas terminal.

Marib lies about 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, which the Iran-aligned Houthis seized along with most of north Yemen in 2014 when they ousted the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

They have since early this year advanced on three fronts towards the Marib region, which is the government's last northern stronghold and has Yemen's biggest gas fields. There have been many casualties on both sides.

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.

The escalation in fighting comes as U.N. and U.S. envoys have been in the region to try to revive stalled peace talks.

Western Countries Again Urge Iran To Return To Nuclear Talks

The French foreign ministry on Thursday warned that time is running out for a potential nuclear deal with Iran, as Tehran “worsens its nuclear violation”. At same time the Austrian foreign minister said that Iran “must commit to the talks.

A French foreign ministry spokesman said that “If Iran is in good faith when it says it wants to return to and preserve the JCPOA, then it must immediately return to the negotiating table it left over three months ago and it must cease its contrary activities. to the Agreement.”

Iran suspended the Vienna nuclear talks in June saying its newly elected president needed time to organize his government, but more than a month has passed since the formation of his cabinet.

The spokesman added, “France is in close consultation with its E3 partners, its other JCPOA partners and the United States on this very worrying situation.”

Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said in New York on Wednesday that the Vienna talks will resume and his Iranian counterpart has confirmed that during their meeting. However, he said, “We are approaching a 'point of no return”. He also made it clear to the Iranian foreign minister that there is now a “good deal of mistrust”.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State met with permanent members of the UN Security Council and he “reiterated the United States’ intent to pursue a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA and to address our full range of concerns with Iran,” the State Department announced.

UK Minister Urges Iran To Return To Nuclear Talks, Free Dual Nationals

British foreign minister Liz Truss held her first meeting with Iran's foreign minister and urged Iran to return rapidly to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiations in Vienna with a view to all sides coming back into compliance and reducing tensions over Iran's nuclear program, a UK government spokesman said on Wednesday.

UK's Truss and Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held their meeting to discuss bilateral, nuclear and regional issues, the spokesman added. 

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers that began in April were suspended in June after Iran’s presidential elections. Tehran says its new government needs time to prepare for the next round of talks, but Europe and the United States have repeatedly urged Iran to resume negotiations.

The spokesman added that the foreign minister also called for the release and return home of British dual national detainees.

Iran has detained British dual national Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliff since 2016 on charges of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic regime. She was arrested when she visited her family.

Tehran also holds British-Iranian businessman Anoosheh Ashoori, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on alleged spying for Israel. All dual nationals and foreigners detained by Iran are facing charges either for spying or anti-regime activities and tried in closed-door courts.

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