Iran

Joe Biden nominates veteran diplomats for top State posts

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday nominated U.S. foreign policy veteran Wendy Sherman, a key negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, to be the No. 2 official at the State Department. Biden also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be Under Secretary for Political Affairs, effectively the third-ranking U.S. diplomat. Sherman, who has a masters degree in social work, was the State Department counselor from 1997 to 2001, a period when she was also policy coordinator on North Korea. From 1993 to 1996 she served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. Because of her association with the Iran deal, which was fiercely opposed by Repub...

Iran test-fires ballistic missiles on targets at sea

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired ballistic missiles against targets in the Indian Ocean as they wrapped up a two-day exercise, their official website reported Saturday. The missiles of “various classes” targeted “the enemy’s battleships and destroyed them from 1,800 kilometres (1,125 miles) away,” according to the Sepahnews website. The missiles were fired from central Iran at targets located in the northern Indian Ocean, the Guards said. A video released by state television showed two missiles being launched and targets being hit at sea. Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri was present on the second day of the drill, alongside Guards chief Major General Hossein Salami and aerospace commander Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh. “One of our major goals in...

U.S. imposes fresh sanctions on Iran in final days of Donald Trump presidency

The United States on Friday sanctioned companies in Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates for doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and on three Iranian entities over conventional arms proliferation. They are the latest in a series of measures aimed at stepping up pressure on Tehran in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s administration, which ends on Jan. 20. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington had sanctioned seven companies, including Chinese-based Jiangyin Mascot Special Steel Co. and UAE-based Accenture Building Materials, and two people for shipping steel to or from Iran. He said Iran’s Marine Industries Organization, Aerospace Industries Organization and the Iran Aviation Industries Organization had also been blacklisted over conven...

PDP raps President Buhari over performance claims

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday berated President Muhammadu Buhari over his stewardship in the past five years, saying he has failed to justify the confidence reposed in him by Nigerians. This is even as the party noted Mr. President’s “illusory self-assessment” has validated its position that “he has since abandoned governance for the luxury and pleasures of Aso Presidential villa, having lost sync with the reality of the devastation his incompetent administration has brought to our nation in the last five years.” In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP insisted “that every fair criticism of Buhari’s administration only reveals a litany of failures and a reversal of fortune for our country in the last five years,” adding that, “it is unfortunate tha...

Iran’s smog, blackouts made worse by power-sapping crypto mining

Outages have been compounded by cryptocurrency mining, which uses banks of high-powered computers. Cities across Iran have been cloaked in thick layers of toxic smog and darkened by blackouts, as the alleged use of low-quality fuel and power-sucking cryptocurrency mining deepen the country’s hardships. Tehran’s Hamshahri newspaper, the country’s most-read daily, ran the headline, “20 Days Living in Smoke,” on Wednesday over a photo of the capital covered in smog. Power plants have been forced to switch to burning low-grade fuel oils to generate electricity because high levels of domestic consumption have led to natural-gas shortages, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh denied earlier this week that any of Iran’s power stations are us...

US slaps sanctions on two foundations linked to Iranian supreme leader

The United States on Wednesday blacklisted two Iranian foundations controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and their subsidiaries, saying the institutions enabled Iran’s elite to sustain a “corrupt” system of ownership over large parts of the economy. The designations announced by the US Department of the Treasury target Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) and Astan Quds Razavi (AQR), their leaders and subsidiaries. These are the latest actions to reinforce the “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran pursued by US President Donald Trump’s administration. “These institutions enable Iran’s corrupt leaders to exploit a system of ownership over a wide range of sectors of Iran’s economy,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. US-Iranian tensions have risen since T...

WHO: 90 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 90 million, reaching 90,054,813 as of Wednesday, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Globally, as of 9:47 am CET (0847 GMT) on Wednesday, there have been 90,054,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,945,610 deaths, reported to WHO. The U.S. has remained at the top in both infection cases and fatalities, with 22,428,591 confirmed cases and 373,329 deaths reported to WHO. It’s followed by India with 10,495,147 cases and 151,529 deaths, and then Brazil, with 8,131,612 cases and 203,580 deaths. Also severely affected were Russia with 3,448,203 cases, Britain with 3,118,522 cases, France with 2,740,656 cases, Italy with 2,289,021 cases, and Spain with 2,111,782 cases. On the list of death tolls afte...

FBI probing threat to crash airplane into U.S. Capitol to avenge Iranian general’s assassination – reports

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the crashing by unknown persons, of radio frequencies used by U.S. air traffic controllers, to broadcast a threat to fly an airplane into U.S. Capitol in revenge for the assassination of prominent Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. U.S. broadcaster CBS news reported this on Wednesday. Congress is due to convene for a meeting later in the day to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. “We are flying a plane into the Capitol Wednesday. “Soleimani will be avenged,” what sounded like an electronically generated male voice said on the audio recording, published by CBS. According to the broadcaster, citing sources, while the threat is not treated as credible by the U.S. government, it is being investigated as a breach of ...

Iran jails British-Iranian researcher for nine years for subversion – report

A court in Iran has handed a nine-year jail sentence to British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, after convicting him of conducting “subversive” research work, the semi-official news agency Tasnim said on Sunday. Ahmady was also fined 600,000 euros ($727,000) – the sum Iranian authorities said he received for his research from institutions accused of seeking to topple Iran’s Islamic government, Tasnim reported. There was no immediate official comment on the sentence, which was also reported by other Iranian news agencies and a human rights groups, as well as by Ahmady’s lawyer, who said that he would appeal. “Ahmady was accused of acquiring illicit property from his cooperation in implementing subversive institutions’ projects in the country,” Tasnim said. Ahmady, an ethnic Kurd who h...