…As Iranian football fan ‘Blue Girl’ dies after setting herself on fire***
Iran must cooperate quickly with international inspectors who are seeking to find out whether it has really declared its entire nuclear programme, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) demanded on Tuesday.
The issue was raised at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said IAEA inspectors had found nuclear material in a secret Iranian warehouse in Turquzabad, Tehran, which he informed them about last year.
Acting IAEA chief Cornel Feruta has not confirmed media reports and Netanyahu’s assertions about the findings, but he warned Monday that “time is of the essence” for Iran to clarify whether it has provided a complete picture about its nuclear activities.
“Let me say as clearly as possible, Iran must immediately provide the IAEA nothing short of full cooperation,” U.S. envoy Jackie Wolcott said.
Iran’s past nuclear weapons research heightens concerns about these latest developments, she said.
In a joint statement, EU countries also expressed concern about Feruta’s comments.
“We urge Iran to cooperate fully and especially also in a timely manner with the IAEA,” the statement said.
Neither the U.S. nor the EU claimed that Iran’s lack of cooperation breaches its 2015 pact with major powers, which has curbed Iran’s ability to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, in return for sanctions relief.
However, in response to Washington’s exit from the pact, Iran has surpassed key enrichment limits.
Iran’s most recent step to boost enrichment research “is inconsistent” with the 2015 pact, the EU said.
In the meantime, a female Iranian football fan who set herself on fire last week after being arrested for sneaking into a stadium dressed as a man has died from her injuries, causing widespread outrage.
The semi-official Shafaqna news agency said the woman – dubbed “Blue Girl” online for her favorite team Esteghlal’s colours – died at hospital on Monday after her self-immolation outside a court where she feared being jailed for six months.
Iranian women have been banned from stadia when men’s teams are playing since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution, although foreign women have been allowed limited access.
“What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heartbreaking,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East research and advocacy director, said in a statement among many expressions of dismay over the fate of Khodayari, who was about 30-years-old.
“Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports,” Luther said.
Iran rejects Western criticism of its human rights record as politically motivated and based on a lack of understanding of its Islamic laws.
World football governing body FIFA, which has been pressuring Iran over the ban, regretted the “tragedy” of Khodayari’s death.
“FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran,” it added in a statement.
Italian club Roma spoke up in solidarity with Khodayari.
“#ASRoma is yellow & red but today our heart bleeds blue for Sahar Khodayari. The beautiful game is meant to unite us, not divide us,” it tweeted.
“Now it’s time for everyone in Iran to be allowed to enjoy football matches together. RIP #BlueGirl.”
After FIFA asked for a timeline, an Iranian Sports Ministry official said in August that women fans would be allowed to attend a men’s soccer World Cub qualifying match in October.
Some called for FIFA to take a tougher line.
“@FIFAcom. Let’s see if you have the guts just for once to stand against women’s rights violation in Iran,” wrote one person with the Twitter handle @IranLionness.