TEHRAN, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Sunday that 1,044 centrifuges are being employed in the uranium enrichment activities at Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, official IRNA news agency reported.
These centrifuges are used “in line with the policy to reduce commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ali Akbar Salehi, the AEOI chief, was quoted as saying.
“Th enrichment is carried out according to our needs and we will stockpile it,” Salehi added, without elaborating on the purity of enriched uranium at Fordow.
Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under JCPOA since last year in response to the U.S. unilateral decision to withdraw from the international agreement between Tehran and the major world powers in May 2018. Enditem
Bahrain on Friday joined the UAE in agreeing to normalise relations with Israel, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran but one that could leave the Palestinians further isolated.
The Gaza protest, attended by a few dozen people, was organised by the ruling group Hamas.
“We have to fight the virus of normalisation and block all its paths before it succeeds to prevent it from spreading,” said Hamas official Maher al-Holy.
Demonstrators set fire to images of US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
While the United States, Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain hail the diplomatic moves as a significant step towards peace and stability in the Middle East, the Palestinians see it as a betrayal.
They fear a weakening of a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
Despite a deep political rift going back to 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority (PA) has a limited rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and his Hamas rivals have been united against the Gulf states’ move.
In the West Bank, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said the diplomatic push will not achieve peace if the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved first.
“The Bahraini, Israeli, American agreement to normalise relations is now part of a bigger package in the region. It isn’t about peace, it is not about relations between countries. We are witnessing an alliance, a military alliance being created in the region,” Erekat said.
Iran, meanwhile, said on Saturday that Bahrain’s move meant it would be complicit in Israeli policies that threatened regional security, Iranian state television reported. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Bahrain would face “harsh revenge” from its own people and the Palestinians over the Gulf state’s move.
Turkey also condemned the deal saying it undermined the Palestinian cause and would “further embolden Israel to continue its illegal practices … and attempts to make the occupation of Palestinian territories permanent”.
Bahrainis opposed to their government’s agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel vented their frustration on social media on Saturday, underlining the complexities of the Gulf’s rapprochement with Israel.
The hashtags #Bahrainis_against_normalisation and #NormalizationIsBetrayal were trending on Twitter after Trump announced the deal late on Friday.
Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled kingdom with a large Shia population, shares with Israel a deep enmity towards Iran, and relies on the United States, which stations its Fifth Fleet on the tiny but strategic archipelago.
Palestinians carry placards during a protest in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday [Said Khatib/AFP]
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani said the deal represented a historic step towards achieving peace in the Middle East, but the PA and the Hamas condemned it as “another stab in the back” by an Arab government.
Unlike the UAE, opposition to normalisation runs deep in Bahrain, which has a history of open politics even if it has been suppressed over the past 10 years.
Former MP Ali Alaswad wrote it was “a black day in the history of Bahrain”.
The kingdom – a small archipelago located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran – has been hit by waves of unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shia-led protests demanding reforms.
Opposition group Al-Wefaq criticised the normalisation deal.
“The agreement between the despotic regime in Bahrain and the Zionist occupation government is a total betrayal of Islam and Arabism and a departure from the Islamic, Arab and national consensus,” it said on Twitter.
Other anti-normalisation groups, based in Bahrain and abroad, expressed their anger in statements sent to media calling the deal “shameful”.
Sari Nusseibeh, a former top PLO official, said the Palestinian leadership was “very upset”.
“But I don’t think they are more upset than in the past about the Arab world in general. Palestinians have always complained that the Arab world has not stood behind them as they should have,” said Nusseibeh.
The Palestinian cause had already become less central as the region has been rocked by the Arab Spring upheavals, the Syria war, and the bloody onslaught by the armed group ISIL (ISIS).
At the same time, hostility has deepened between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“There have been all kinds of problems in the Arab world – disputes, revolutions, civil wars, tensions between different Arab countries,” said Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib. “Palestinians are now paying the price for the deterioration in Arab unity.”
The PA maintains the validity of the so-called “Arab consensus” and rejects the notion that it is isolated. That consensus has long held that Arab states will only normalise ties if Israel meets a number of conditions.
One demand is for Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Another is to agree to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a third to find a just solution for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
“We hope that the Arab countries will remain committed to this consensus,” said Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian official, adding straying from it “will lead to nothing”.
“Those who are violating the Arab consensus … will be isolated” in the long term, he warned.
Palestinians condemn the normalisation of ties between Israel and Bahrain in Gaza [Mahmud Hams/AFP]
One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, shared the view that at the moment “the Palestinians don’t really have a way out”.
“They are also stuck because of those who want to support their cause, whether it is Turkey or Iran.”
Iran already has relations with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and slightly cooler ties with the PA.
The Palestinian cause has also received backing from Turkey, a regional power increasingly at odds with Israel and that militarily backs a rival faction in the Libya war to the UAE and Egypt.
“Turkey does have an ambition to lead this cause and is pointing to the hypocrisy of both Arab states and the West for not emphasising this issue enough,” said Gallia Lindenstrauss of Israel’s National Institute for Security Research.
Rajoub insisted: “We are not ignoring any country. Turkey is a regional superpower, it’s an Islamic country and we are on good terms. We’ll keep cooperating with everybody.”
But Khatib argued the Palestinians should keep their distance. “It’s not wise for the Palestinians to be caught within the regional tensions and competition between regional superpowers,” he said.
“If you side with Iran, you’ll lose Saudi Arabia. If you side with Turkey, you’ll lose someone else. It’s better for the Palestinians to keep a safe distance from these different regional superpowers.”
India’s Ambassador to the United Nations T. S. Tirumurti has asked the Security Council to take off the “outdated agenda item” of the “India-Pakistan question,” from the Council.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram responded, “Indian representatives are either deluding themselves, or deluding their public, by asserting that they will remove Kashmir from the Security Council’s agenda.”
Summary statement by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres of matters of which the Security Council is seized was issued Jan. 2. Fifty-six items have been considered by the Council at a formal meeting during the period from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2019, while 13 were not.
However, all 69 agenda items were identified “as matters of which Security Council was currently seized,” including “The India-Pakistan Question.”
It is worth mentioning here that an item can be removed from the agenda only in accordance with the basic rules of procedure governing the function of the Security Council.
The removal can take place if the conflict has been resolved or there is a consensus among all 15 members of the Council to remove a particular agenda item.
In the case of Kashmir, none of these conditions apply. As we know the presence of the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Srinagar, the capitol of Jammu and Kashmir, affirms that the Kashmir dispute is a matter seized by the Council.
India calls the Kashmir dispute an “outdated agenda item.” Much is being made of the fact that seven decades have passed since the principled solution for Kashmir was formulated by the UN with almost universal support.
Mere passage of time or the flight from realities cannot alter the fact that these resolutions remain unimplemented until today. UN resolutions can never become outdated or obsolete, or overtaken by events or changed circumstances.
The passage of time cannot invalidate an enduring and irreplaceable principle: The right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir. If passage of time were allowed to extinguish solemn international agreements, then the United Nations Charter should suffer the same fate as the resolutions on Kashmir.
If non-implementation were to render an agreement defunct, then the Geneva Convention in the 21st century in many countries is in no better state than these resolutions.
The UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir are not of a routine nature. Their text was meticulously negotiated between India and Pakistan and it is after each provision was accepted by the two governments concerned that they were adopted by the Security Council. The assent of the two governments was conveyed in writing to the Council.
They thus not only embody a solemn international agreement, but have been endorsed repeatedly by the Council and by successive UN representatives.
They explicitly recognize the right of the people of Kashmir to determine the future status of their homeland. This right remains unaffected by the non-performance by either side of the provisions of the resolutions.
The idea that the dispute over the status of Jammu and Kashmir can be settled only in accordance with the will of the people, which can be ascertained through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite, was the stand taken by India. It was supported without any dissent by the Security Council and prominently championed by the US, Britain and other democratic states.
India’s Ambassador to the UN Sir Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, while presenting his government’s case to the Council on Jan. 15, 1948, stated: “The question … whether she [Kashmir] should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations – all this we have recognized to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir.”
Mahatma Gandhi is known for his statement that “The will of Kashmiris is the supreme law in Kashmir.”
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the founding prime minister of India said Nov. 2, 1947: “We have declared the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.”
Ambassador Warren Austin of the US stated during Security Council meeting 235 on Jan. 24, 1948: “When India accepted the accession of Kashmir, it made its act stand for a great principle by stating as a part of the acceptance, that it was conditional on fair plebiscite being held to determine the will of the people of Kashmir with respect to accession. I think an example was made in history at that point.”
US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated Feb. 5, 1957 that, “We continue to believe that unless the parties are able to agree upon some other solution, the solution which was recommended by the Security Council should prevail, which is that there should be a plebiscite.”
India, however, was soon undeceived of its delusions about Kashmir’s political yearning. Recognizing that its people would never freely vote accession to India, it contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite. When the UN proposed arbitration, a reference to the World Court, or any other method of resolving minor demilitarization quarrels, India nixed them all. After a few years, it dropped all pretense of acceding to a referendum by unilaterally proclaiming its annexation of Kashmir. And Aug. 5, 2019, in violation of all international agreements, India abrogated Article 370 and 35A. India’s proclamation has never been accepted by the UN, which continues to list Kashmir as disputed territory and subject to the Security Council’s self-determination resolutions.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir are thankful to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for stating the principled position that the Kashmir conflict should be resolved under the UN Charter and applicable to UN Security Council resolutions.
He has been consistent in urging India and Pakistan to initiate a process leading to a resolution of the Kashmir problem and to avail of his assistance toward that end. Until now, India has made no constructive response to this offer, instead India has cautioned the secretary- general not to interfere in her “internal matters.”
The secretary-general is empowered by the Charter of the United Nations to bring a matter of this nature to the attention of the Security Council. We fully realize, however, that, in the present circumstances and, given the policies and attitudes of the permanent members, this right and power of the secretary-general might advisably be held in reserve.
Short of invoking Article 99, the secretary-general could help turn the situation towards a cessation of human rights violations and beginning of a dialogue among the three parties – the people of Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan – by sending a special envoy to the region to explore all possible options to settle the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Such a mission could visit all parts of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the capitals of India and Pakistan, and verify the truth of allegations from either side. The matter is much too urgent to be relegated to the routine mechanism of the Human Rights Council and various bodies established to monitor various conventions.
The secretary-general should also alert the P5 – China, France, Russia, UK and US — that the existing confrontation between India and China, and constant hostilities between India and Pakistan – all nuclear powers and share borders with Kashmir – will lead the whole region to nuclear catastrophe with immense consequences for the whole world if the Kashmir conflict remains unresolved.
We trust that world powers in general, and the United Nations in particular, will bring immense moral and political influence to bear on initiating a peace process which will lead to a speedy, just and honorable settlement of the dispute and restore to the people of Kashmir their inalienable right to self-determination.
By Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
– The writer is the secretary general of Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum.
The image below is a composite of the two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico with Hurricane Laura on the left, as seen on Aug. 26, and Hurricane Sally on the right, as seen on Sept. 14.
This image is a composite of two satellite images taken by NOAA’s GOES-East weather satellite; one image from Aug. 26, 2020 showing Hurricane Laura (left) and one image from Sept. 14, 2020 showing Hurricane Sally (right).3 hrs agoCopied
Alabama Governor closes beaches, recommends evacuations ahead of Hurricane Sally
Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
All Alabama beaches will be closed starting at 3:00 p.m. local time on Monday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced after she declared a state of emergency for Sally. Gov. Ivey also recommends evacuations of flood-prone areas south of Interstate 10. The evacuation recommendation applies to people who live in low-lying and flood-prone areas and those in mobile homes and manufactured homes. “As the recently upgraded Hurricane Sally continues heading closer to the Gulf Coast, we must give individuals time to prepare for the anticipated impacts of this storm,” Ivey said. “Alabamians are no stranger to tropical weather and the significant damage these storms can do, even though our state is not currently in the direct line of impact. Locals will need to prepare their homes, businesses and personal property for imminent storm surge, heavy rain and flash flooding. I urge everyone to tune in to their trusted weather source, and pay attention to your local officials for updates regarding your area as they make further recommendations based off the unique needs of your community.”4 hrs agoCopied
“A large swath of 4- to 8-inch rainfall is forecast from the central Gulf coast to the southern Appalachians, but an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ rainfall of 24 inches is forecast in parts of southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, southeastern Louisiana and the western part of the Florida Panhandle as Sally crawls along,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said.
6 hrs agoCopied
Sally rapidly strengthens into a Category 1 hurricane
Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
Sally rapidly strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane right around 12 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said. Sally has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and is located about 175 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Sally is now the seventh hurricane of the 2020 season joining Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Marco, Nana and Paulette.7 hrs agoCopied
Hurricane warning issued for coast of Alabama
Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
The tropical storm warning and hurricane watch from the Mississippi/Alabama Border to the Alabama/Florida Border has been changed to a hurricane warning, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. EDT update. Sally, still a tropical storm, is about 140 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 185 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi.
Extreme meteorologist Reed Timmer was in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Monday morning, a costal city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago. Timmer reported that minor coastal flooding was already occurring in the city ahead of Sally, which was still over 100 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. Timmer also noted that many residents have evacuated the area. A storm surge of 6-10 feet is forecast for Bay St. Louis, which is about 60 miles northeast of New Orleans. Hear more from Timmer in the video below.
Homes boarded up, boats moved as Sally closes in on Gulf Coast
A house is boarded up in Hancock County, Mississippi. (ABC News)10 hrs agoCopied
Sally getting closer to hurricane status
Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
Sally is growing stronger as its maximum sustained winds are now up to 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest advisory. The storm is located about 115 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 165 miles southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi. Sally is moving to the west-northwest at a speed of 8 mph. Sally will become a Category 1 hurricane when its maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph.
Tropical Storm Sally grows stronger near the Gulf Coast early Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (CIRA RAMMB)11 hrs agoCopied
The AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes is a 6-point scale with ratings of less than one and 1 to 5 that was introduced by AccuWeather in 2019 to rate tropical systems based on multiple impacts, rather than just wind, like the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale does.
State of emergency declarations have already been issued by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves ahead of Sally’s arrival. “This when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary,” Edwards said on Twitter. “I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.”
Tropical Storm Sally seen on radar in the Gulf of Mexico early Monday morning, Sept. 14, 2020.12 hrs agoCopied
Tropical Storm Sally expected to become hurricane on Monday
As of 5 a.m. Monday morning Sally is located 120 miles east-southeast of the mouth of Mississippi River and moving west-northwestward at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. (Satellite image via NOAA GOES)
• The fragmentary destruction of the Natanz nuclear site pushed back progress at the site by more than a year.
• The new hall is expected to speed up the development of uranium centrifuges.
• Pompeo: “Iran’s uranium stockpile is reportedly more than 10 times the limit set by the JCPOA.”
Iran has announced that it is building a new facility in the mountains located close to the Natanz nuclear site. According to the government statement, it will be a much bigger complex than Natanz and will be used in the production of nuclear centrifuges. A segment of the Natanz facility was destroyed in July following a suspected sabotage attempt.
The new hall is expected to speed up the development of uranium centrifuges.
An explosion that was triggered by a cyber-attack shattered key sections of the Natanz site. Israeli operatives are believed to have been behind the incident.
In the aftermath of the blast, Iran accused both the US and Israel of involvement. Just weeks before this, the two countries had accused Tehran of running a secret nuclear project, claims that Iran vehemently denied.
The fragmentary destruction of the Natanz nuclear site pushed back progress at the site by more than a year.
“Due to the sabotage, it was decided to build a more modern, larger and more comprehensive hall in all dimensions in the heart of the mountain near Natanz. Of course, the work has begun.”
The latest development has got the US and Israel concerned.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned about Iran’s burgeoning uranium stockpile had exceeded the maximum amount allowed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) treaty by more than ten times.
The announcement was made following an IAEA inspection report that was released last Friday. Iran was found to have processed over 2,000 kilograms of low-concentration enriched uranium.
Pompeo has asked EU nations to join America in imposing sanctions on Iran, stating, “Iran’s uranium stockpile is reportedly more than 10 times the limit set by the JCPOA.
Behrouz Kamalvandi has stressed that the current uranium levels are similar to those reached prior to the JCPOA agreement.
The E3 and other nations must wake up to the reality that the nuclear deal is history and should join us in imposing strong sanctions. Pressure and comprehensive talks are the only path forward.”
Why Iran is Reluctant to Cede its Nuclear Program
Iran has stubbornly continued to develop its nuclear program both covertly and overtly. This is despite crippling sanctions imposed on it by the US administration.
While it claims that its project is for peaceful purposes, conflict analysts contend that the nation’s primary objective is to build a nuclear bomb. Of course, intending to make a nuclear bomb and actually reaching bomb-making capacity are two different things.
Even with the ramped-up uranium volumes, Iran has nowhere near the amount needed to make an atomic bomb.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the nation’s Atomic Energy Organization, has stressed that the current uranium levels are similar to those reached prior to the JCPOA agreement.