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UN nuclear watchdog ‘worried about increasing tensions’ over Iran

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said Monday it was “worried about increasing tensions” over Iran’s nuclear program, after Tehran said it might stop respecting more elements of a 2015 international deal.“I … hope that ways can be found to reduce current tensions through dialogue,” International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano said in a…

UN nuclear watchdog ‘worried about increasing tensions’ over Iran

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said Monday it was “worried about increasing tensions” over Iran’s nuclear program, after Tehran said it might stop respecting more elements of a 2015 international deal.“I … hope that ways can be found to reduce current tensions through dialogue,” International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano said in a speech opening the agency’s quarterly board of governors meeting.On May 8, Iran announced it no longer considered itself bound to keep to the limits of stocks of heavy water and enriched uranium which were agreed as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).Tehran’s move came a year after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal. Washington has also reinforced economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.Iran has also said that if the other parties to the JCPOA do not speed up work on mitigating the effects of US sanctions, by early July it may stop abiding by restrictions on the level to which it can enrich uranium and on modifications to its Arak heavy water reactor.Two weeks ago, the latest inspections report by the IAEA said that while stocks of uranium and heavy water had increased, they were still within the limits set by the JCPOA.“As I have constantly emphasized, the nuclear-related commitments entered into by Iran under the JCPOA represent a significant gain for nuclear verification,” Amano said.“It is essential that Iran fully implements its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA,” he added.The latest IAEA report noted that “technical discussions… are ongoing” with Iran in relation to its installation of up to 33 advanced IR-6 centrifuges, but did not specify the content of these discussions.Also on Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas held talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on the future of the JCPOA.Maas acknowledged that the economic benefits Tehran hoped for from the deal were now “more difficult to obtain” but urged Iran to fully respect the agreement.The JCPOA was struck between Iran and six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in 2015.Tensions between Washington and Tehran have worsened in recent weeks.The United States has beefed up its military presence in the Middle East in response to alleged threats from the Islamic republic.

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Middle East News

Britain says war with Iran would strengthen militants

BRUSSELS: The EU’s diplomatic chief on Tuesday condemned Turkish “interference” in Libya after Ankara sent troops to support the UN-backed Tripoli government, warning this complicates the crisis in the oil-rich state.After emergency talks on the situation with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Germany and Italy, Josep Borrell said the Turkish intervention was “something that we…

Britain says war with Iran would strengthen militants

BRUSSELS: The EU’s diplomatic chief on Tuesday condemned Turkish “interference” in Libya after Ankara sent troops to support the UN-backed Tripoli government, warning this complicates the crisis in the oil-rich state.After emergency talks on the situation with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Germany and Italy, Josep Borrell said the Turkish intervention was “something that we reject and which increases our worries about the situation in Libya”.

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Middle East News

US warns ships in Middle East waterways of possible Iran action

LONDON: Britain on Tuesday called for calm after the United States killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and said a war with Iran would only benefit Islamist militants across the Middle East.“What we’re looking to do is to de-escalate the tensions with Iran and make sure in relation to Iraq that we don’t lose the…

US warns ships in Middle East waterways of possible Iran action

LONDON: Britain on Tuesday called for calm after the United States killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and said a war with Iran would only benefit Islamist militants across the Middle East.“What we’re looking to do is to de-escalate the tensions with Iran and make sure in relation to Iraq that we don’t lose the hard-won gains that we secured against Daesh,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday said the US killing of Soleimani was state terrorism, and that Iran would ‘respond proportionately.’“We are concerned that if we see a full-blown war it would be very damaging and actually the terrorists, in particular Daesh, would be the only winners,” the British foreign secretary said.“We’re working with our US partners, our EU partners, that is why I’m travelling out to Brussels today, to make sure we send a very clear and consistent message on the need for de-escalation and to find a diplomatic route though.”

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Arab League reaffirms rejection of foreign interference, calls for Libya solution

CAIRO: Egypt’s recent decision to transport ancient Pharaonic artifacts to a traffic circle in the congested heart of Cairo has fueled fresh controversy over the government’s handling of its archaeological heritage.Cairo has some of the worst air pollution in the world, according to recent studies. Archaeologists and heritage experts fear vehicle exhaust will damage the…

Arab League reaffirms rejection of foreign interference, calls for Libya solution

CAIRO: Egypt’s recent decision to transport ancient Pharaonic artifacts to a traffic circle in the congested heart of Cairo has fueled fresh controversy over the government’s handling of its archaeological heritage.Cairo has some of the worst air pollution in the world, according to recent studies. Archaeologists and heritage experts fear vehicle exhaust will damage the four ram-headed sphinxes and an obelisk, currently en route to their new home in Tahrir Square.Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has weighed in to say that similar obelisks are displayed in Western cities, according to a statement late Monday.But Dr. Monica Hanna, a heritage expert, said Egyptian artifacts in cities like London, Paris and New York are themselves endangered by being outdoors.“The sphinxes are made of sandstone, they are part of the dry environment in Luxor, when they would be moved to Tahrir Square with all the pollution, they will deteriorate as a result of the reactions with the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the air,” Hanna told The Associated Press.She and a member of parliament are part of a lawsuit to block the artifacts’ move, filed recently by a local rights group.Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the government “will do everything” to protect the artifacts.Tahrir Square was the epicenter of Egypt’s so-called Arab Spring uprising in 2011. The square also contains the Egyptian Museum.The decision to move the artifacts as part of a larger renovation of Tahrir Square was taken without debate in parliament. The controversy only surfaced after archaeologists objected.Since coming to power in 2013, El-Sisi has touted a number of megaprojects aimed at rebuilding and expanding infrastructure. Those include an expansion of the Suez Canal and a new Egyptian museum near the Giza Pyramids.A centerpiece of the new museum is a towering statue of Ramses II. It once stood in a busy square near Cairo’s main railway station, but was removed in the 1990s due to preservation concerns.Waziri, the antiquities chief, said the four sphinxes are not part of the famed avenue of sphinxes in the city of Luxor. They were among several located behind the first edifice of the temple of Karnak.The obelisk was recently moved to Cairo from the San el-Haggar archaeological site in the Nile Delta, the ministry said.But Hanna, the heritage expert, stressed that the obelisks in Western capitals had been moved during the colonial era. “We really had no say in their shipment.”

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