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U.S. will not let Iran buy arms when UN embargo ends- Pompeo

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5G: World is abandoning China’s Hauwei — Pompeo

…Urges countries to deny overflight rights to Iran airline***

The United States will not allow Iran to purchase conventional arms after a UN prohibition on this expires in October, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

“We’re not going to let that happen,” Pompeo said at a news briefing.

“We will work with the UN Security Council to extend that prohibition on those arms sales and then in the event we can’t get anyone else to act, the U.S. is evaluating every possibility about how we might do that.”

The U.S. in 2018 withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal that sought to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

As part of that deal, a UN arms embargo on Iran expires in October.

A U.S.-drafted resolution to extend the embargo has been given to Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the nuclear deal, a U.S. official confirmed.

However, UN diplomats said it has not been shared with the remaining 11 UN Security Council members, including Russia and China. Russia and China.

The Security Council members which hold vetoes on the council and are parties to the nuclear deal, are believed to be eager to sell armaments to Iran.

“The failures of the Iran nuclear deal are legion. One of them is now upon us. … where China, Russia, and other countries from around the world can all sell significant conventional weapon systems to the Iranians in October, Pompeo said.

“We are urging our E3 partners to take action. This is within their capacity to do,” he added

He was referring to Britain, France and Germany, each of which has the ability to force the “snapback” of all UN sanctions on Iran – including the conventional arms embargo – lifted under the nuclear deal.

Several European diplomats said since Washington has pulled out of the nuclear deal, it may not be able to spark a sanctions snapback, but Pompeo on Wednesday pushed back on that argument.

“The UN Security Council Resolution 2231 is very clear.

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“We don’t have to declare ourselves as a participant…It’s there in the language…It’s unambiguous and the rights that accrue to participants in the UN Security Council resolution are fully available to all those participants,” he said.

Some UN diplomats said that while legal opinions on whether the U.S. could do this were split, ultimately it would be up to council members to decide whether to accept a U.S. complaint of “significant non-performance” by Iran.

In a related development, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called on countries to deny overflight rights to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline flying to Venezuela, under U.S. sanctions.

Pompeo accused the airline of delivering cargoes of “unknown support” to the Venezuelan government.

The U.S. maintains punishing sanctions on Iran aimed at containing its regional power in the Middle East and has hit Venezuela with similarly tough measures in an effort to force socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Speaking at a State Department news conference, Pompeo said aircraft of privately owned Mahan Air, Iran’s largest airline, in recent days delivered supplies to Maduro’s government.

“Over the last few days, multiple aircraft belonging to Mahan Air have transferred unknown support to the Maduro regime.

“This is the same terrorist airline that Iran used to move weapons and fighters around the Middle East,” Pompeo said.

The flights “must stop,” Pompeo continued, adding that countries should deny Mahan Air overflight rights “just as many have already denied landing rights to this sanctioned airline.”

The Trump administration has waged a campaign of sanctions and diplomatic measures against Venezuela in an effort to oust Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was considered a sham by most Western countries.

The U.S. and dozens of other governments recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president in January 2019.

But Maduro who derides Guaido as a U.S. puppet – remains in power, backed by Venezuela’s military as well as Russia, China and Cuba.

Some U.S. officials have said this has been a growing source of frustration for President Donald Trump.

Last week, a Venezuelan official said the country received materials via Iranian aircraft to help it start the catalytic cracking unit at the Cardon refinery, which is necessary to produce gasoline.

Planes flying from Tehran landed at the Las Piedras airport in western Venezuela, where Cardon is located, on April 21 and 22, according to data on flight-tracking service FlightRadar24 reviewed by Reuters.

The planes were operated by Mahan Air.

Both oil-producing countries are OPEC members.

Washington in December and January sanctioned Mahan Air for alleged roles in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and transporting arms and fighters to Syria as part of Iran’s backing of Damascus in that country’s civil war.

Those sanctions expanded on 2011 counterterrorism sanctions imposed on Mahan Air over its support for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

 

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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