Monthly Archives: November 2011

Britain orders expulsion of all Iran diplomatic staff within 48 hours

Following attack on U.K. embassy in Tehran, British Foreign Secretary Hague says his country closed its Iran embassy, now orders Iran to immediately close its embassy in London.

 Haaretz

Britain has told Iran to close its embassy in London within 48 hours, Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament in London Wednesday.

He said Britain had closed its embassy in Tehran and evacuated all staff.

“The Iranian charge (d’affaires) in London is being informed now that we require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London and that all Iranian diplomatic staff must leave the United Kingdom within the next 48 hours,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament.

“We have now closed the British embassy in Tehran. We have decided to evacuate all our staff and as of the last few minutes, the last of our UK-based staff have now left Iran,” he said.

Iranian protesters stormed two British Embassy compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows, hurling petrol bombs and burning the British flag during a rally to protest against sanctions imposed by Britain, live Iranian television showed.

Meanwhile, German media reported Wednesday that Germany has recalled its ambassador to Iran for consultation after the British diplomatic mission in Tehran was stormed on Tuesday.

Moreover, Italy’s foreign minister also announced Wednesday that his country is considering closing its embassy in Tehran.

The attacks followed the rapid approval by Iran’s Guardian Council of a parliamentary bill compelling the government to expel the British ambassador in retaliation for the sanctions, and warnings from a lawmaker that angry Iranians could storm the British embassy as they did to the U.S. mission in 1979.

The incident followed Britain’s imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic state last week over its nuclear program.

London banned all British financial institutions from doing business with their Iranian counterparts, including the Central Bank of Iran, as part of a new wave of sanctions by Western countries.

In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain expected other countries to follow its lead in imposing financial sanctions on Iran and will take “robust” action if Tehran reduces their diplomatic relations.

Hague was speaking in a parliamentary debate as news broke of the incident in Tehran but he made no comment on it.

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Saudi Arabia urges citizens to ‘swiftly’ leave Syria

Appeal comes two days after Arab League decides to impose sanctions on Bashar Assad’s government over its refusal to allow monitors to enter the country.

 Haaretz

Saudi Arabia urged its citizens on Tuesday to quickly leave Syria to avoid getting caught in a military crackdown on months of popular protests, the Saudi state news agency reported.

“The foreign ministry renewed its warning to citizens currently in Syria to leave swiftly and asked those planning trips there not to travel now due to the unrest witnessed by the Syrian arena,” the agency said.

The appeal came two days after the Arab League decided to impose sanctions on the government of President Bashar Assad over its refusal to allow monitors to enter the country to monitor rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia has taken a leading role among Arab states in condemning Assad’s use of troops and tanks to crush street unrest. In August King Abdullah urged Syria to end bloodshed and recalled his country’s ambassador from Damascus.

Saudi Arabia said earlier this month that one of its citizens had been killed by Syrian government forces in the restive city of Homs.

The crackdown has become one of the most violent episodes in the wave of unrest sweeping through the Arab world this year. Assad’s government says it is fighting criminals and armed extremists who have provoked violence by attacking its troops.

Human rights activists and Western countries say Assad’s forces have attacked peaceful protesters.

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Israeli Minister of MK: Prepare for War If Egypt Deploys in Sinai

Israeli Minister of MK: Prepare for War If Egypt Deploys in Sinai « The Ugly Truth

MK Aryeh Eldad (NU): world public opinion should be primed to see Egyptian army entry into Sinai as casus belli.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) warned Sunday that Israel must prepare for the possibility that Egypt will deploy its military in the Sinai peninsula – and respond to that act as a declaration of war.

Eldad, who is a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said Israel “must prepare for the annulment” of the treaty, or its abrogation without a formal annulment.

Israel could face a situation in which “the Sinai will no longer be just a place for storing arms and training, and military forces beyond what was agreed upon in the peace treaty will enter it,” he said. “World public opinion should be prepared for the fact that this would be a casus belli,” he said.

Eldad added that he does not believe Israel’s government will take these steps, but also said that “we cannot afford not to do this” because “otherwise we will find Egyptian divisions hurtling in our direction through Sinai.”

US forces deployed in the Sinai provide no protection, he said, because they might be evacuated “by means of a single phone call” as occurred in the case of a UN force stationed in Sinai before the Six Day War.

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Turkey raises Syria military option

Turkey raises Syria military option « The Ugly Truth

Turkish FM says Ankara reluctatant to use force, but preparing itself for ‘any scenario’

Haaretz

Turkey on Tuesday raised the option of military intervention in neighboring Syria while Russia rejected even an arms embargo as Damascus tries to stifle anti-government protests.

Highlighting divisions among foreign powers on how to deal with the bloodshed in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister said Ankara was reluctant to take a military option but was ready for “any scenario”.

Western powers have long ruled out any Libyan-style military intervention in Syria to halt the crackdown, in which more than 3,500 people are believed have been killed in eight months.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested military force remained an option, albeit apparently a remote one, if Assad did not heed calls to halt the violence.

“If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people,” he told Kanal 24 TV.

Davutoglu also raised the possibility of a buffer zone if the violence provoked a flood of refugees, an idea used by Ankara inside northern Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991. While NATO bombing of Libya was crucial in helping rebels to oust Muammar Gadhafi, Western countries are more cautious about Syria, which lies at the heart of Middle East conflicts, borders Israel and Lebanon and maintains close ties with Iran.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected calls at the United Nations for an arms embargo against Syria, saying that a similar move against Libya had proved one-sided, helping rebels to topple Gadhafi in August.

“We know how that worked in Libya when the arms embargo only applied to the Libyan army. The opposition received weapons, and countries like France and Qatar publicly spoke about it without shame,” he told a news conference.

Moscow, which has also been critical of further sanctions slapped on Syria by Western and Arab League states, has close political and strategic relations with Assad’s government and has been one if its main arms suppliers.

Alluding to Western powers and the Arab League, Lavrov said it was time to “stop using ultimatums” to pressure Damascus and repeated Russia’s calls for dialogue between the government and its foes, whom Moscow says share blame for the bloodshed.

“For the most part, armed groups are provoking the authorities. To expect the authorities to close their eyes to this is not right,” Lavrov said.

A UN commission of inquiry said on Monday that Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape, and called for an arms embargo on Syria.

Russia teamed up with China last month to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government. Both countries have oil concessions in Syria while Russia also has a little-used naval base there and provides military advisers to the Syrian army.

“The longer what is happening in Syria goes on, the more it troubles us,” added Lavrov. Moscow has urged Assad to implement reforms but rejects calls for his resignation and accused Western nations of trying to set the stage for armed intervention.

Syria accounted for 7 percent of Russia’s total of $10 billion in arms deliveries abroad in 2010, according to the Russian defense think-tank CAST.

Davutoglu said the possible scenarios included setting up a buffer zone to contain any mass influx of Syrian refugees.

“If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as buffer zone. We don’t want that to happen but we must consider and work on that scenario,” he said.

The Turkish army set up a security buffer zone inside northern Iraq during in 1991 and has maintained small detachments there ever since.

A former friend of Syria, Turkey has fallen out with Assad and has said it will implement some sanctions agreed by the Arab League over the weekend. Davutoglu said he was making the same mistakes as Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein by unleashing oppression that only fueled more opposition.

However, he said Damascus still had a chance to accept international observers proposed by the Arab League.

Another Turkish minister said Ankara would conduct trade with the Middle East via Iraq if the violence worsened in Syria.

Turkey’s state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Transport Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday as saying that Ankara would open new border gates with Iraq if necessary.

Yildirim said the sanctions would not harm the Syrian people. “We plan to conduct transit shipments through new border gates in Iraq if the conditions in Syria worsen,” Yildirim said.

Turkey will selectively impose those sanctions announced by the Arab League to avoid harming the Syrian people, the Turkish newspaper Sabah reported on Tuesday.

The Arab League imposed the sanctions on Sunday and the European Union weighed in one day later.

Sabah said Syrian government accounts at the Turkish central bank will be suspended, official sales to the Syrian state will be halted and a travel ban will be imposed on Assad and his family.

However, civil aviation flights will not be halted and Turkish Airlines services to Damascus will continue. It did not identify sources for the story.

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Iran protesters storm UK embassy in Tehran

Iran protesters storm UK embassy in Tehran « The Ugly Truth

Protesters in the Iranian capital, Tehran, have broken into the UK embassy compound during a demonstration against sanctions imposed by Britain.

Militant students are said to have removed the British flag, burnt it and replaced it with Iran’s flag. State TV showed youths smashing embassy windows.

The move comes after Iran resolved to reduce ties following the UK’s decision to impose further sanctions on it.

The UK’s Foreign Office said it was “outraged” by the actions.

It called on Iran to honour international commitments to protect diplomatic missions and their staff. A statement also urged Britons in Iran to “stay indoors and keep a low profile”.

The students clashed with riot police and chanted “the embassy of Britain should be taken over” and “death to England”, AP reports.

Students were reported to be ransacking offices inside the building, and one protester was said to be waving a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth II.

Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said embassy documents had been set alight. Embassy staff fled by the back door, the agency added.

Pictures showed a car inside the compound on fire while outside the embassy’s walls, several hundred other demonstrators were gathered.

Some two hours later, police seemed to be back in control of the building. Live TV footage showed riot police gradually clearing the protesters away from outside the embassy.

“The rally is ended, leave,” police called from loudspeakers.

An unconfirmed report from the official Irna news agency said a separate group of protesters had broken into another British embassy compound in the north of the city and seized “classified documents”.

The UK Foreign Office condemned the attack. “We are outraged by this. It is utterly unacceptable,” it said in a statement.

“The Iranian government have a clear duty to protect diplomats and embassies in their country and we expect them to act urgently to bring the situation under control and ensure the safety of our staff and security of our property”.

It later updated its travel advice to Iran, urging Britons there to “stay indoors, keep a low profile and await further advice”.

It was not clear how many embassy staff were in the building at the time. A Foreign Office source said it was checking on the well-being of workers and diplomats, AP reported.

France condemned the attack “very strongly”, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

“France expresses its full solidarity with the UK,” he said.

Last week the US, UK and Canada announced new measures targeting Iran over its controversial nuclear plans.

For its part, the UK Treasury imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, accusing them of facilitating the country’s nuclear programme

That decision followed a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that suggested Iran was working towards acquiring a nuclear weapon.

It said Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear device”.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

On Sunday, Iran’s parliament voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic relations with the UK in response to the British action.

Iranian radio reported that some MPs had chanted “Death to Britain” during the vote, which was approved by 87% of MPs.

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Britain, Israel colluding against Iran

PressTV – Britain, Israel colluding against Iran

Former British defense secretary Liam Fox (R) and his best friend Adam Werritty
A report says that Britain and Israel are in cahoots with each other against Iran and have held secret meetings to draw plans for a military strike on the Islamic Republic.

According to an article by Jonathan Cook publish on Global Research website, former British defense secretary Liam Fox and his best man Adam Werritty attended a dinner banquet with a group described as senior Israeli officials in Tel Aviv last February.

Fox and Werritty were accompanied by Britain’s ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould, and the Israeli figures attending the ceremony were representatives of Israel’s secret service, the Mossad.

Craig Murray, Britain’s ambassador to Uzbekistan until 2004, has now claimed that the topic of discussion that evening was a secret plot to launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The former British diplomat said the Tel Aviv dinner was especially significant as the discussion that night focused on ways to ensure Britain assisted in creating favorable diplomatic conditions for an attack on Iran.

Murray also pointed out that the banquet in the Israeli capital city raises “vital concerns about a secret agenda for war at the core of government, comparable to [former British Prime Minister Tony] Blair’s determination to drive through a war on Iraq.”

The remarks come as The Daily Telegraph recently reported that Fox and Werritty secretly met the head of the Mossad during the Tel Aviv dinner.

The Independent also wrote in October that Werritty had close ties to Mossad as well as to “US-backed neocons” plotting to unseat the Iranian government.

The Guardian revealed in November that British defense department under Fox had devised comprehensive plans for British assistance in the event of a US military strike on Iran. The plans included allowing the US military to use Diego Garcia – a British territory in the Indian Ocean – as a base from which to launch an attack.

The United States and Israel have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the “option” of a military strike, based on the allegation that Iran’s nuclear work may consist of a covert military agenda.

Iran has refuted the allegations, saying that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

While Israel refuses to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities or to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity, Iran has been subjected to snap International Atomic Energy Agency inspections due to its policy of nuclear transparency.

Israel recently test fired a new long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The test was carried out at the Palmahim air base in central Israel.

This three-stage Jericho-3 missile, which is capable of delivering a 750-kilo warhead to a distance, is estimated to have a range of up to 10,000 kilometers. Paradoxically, Israel’s new nuke-capable missile, which can target many parts of the globe, is not considered a threat in the eyes of the West.

MP/HGH

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Occupy London sets out agenda on how it wants to change the economic world

Occupy London sets out agenda on how it wants to change the economic world | UK news | The Guardian

Campaigners’ policy statement calls for an end to tax havens and tax avoidance

Occupy London protesters have been camping outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London for more than a month and have now issued a statement on how they want to end the injustices of the global financial system. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

The Occupy London movement has agreed its first specific set of proposals about corporations, just over six weeks since it first set up camp outside St Paul’s cathedral to campaign against the perceived excesses and injustices of the global financial system.

While the protest has gathered considerable publicity and expanded to three sites – as well as St Paul’s, there are offshoot camps in Finsbury Square, further east, and inside a vacant office complex nearby owned by the Swiss bank USB – it has faced criticism about a lack of concrete demands. Agreeing these has proved a complicated process, as all decision are reached by consensus at mass meetings.

The first policy statement on corporations calls for an end to tax havens and tax avoidance, more transparency over business lobbying, and legal reforms to make individual executives more liable for the consequences of their decisions.

“Globally, corporations deprive the public purse of hundreds of billions of pounds each year, leaving insufficient funds to provide people with fair living standards. We must abolish tax havens and complex tax avoidance schemes, and ensure corporations pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits,” the statement said.

On lobbying, it calls for laws to ensure “full and public transparency of all corporate lobbying activities”. Finally, the statement argues that executives must be “personally liable for their role in the misdeeds of their corporations and duly charged for all criminal behaviour”.

Soon after the first camp was set up on the western edge of St Paul’s, after police prevented activists basing themselves near the headquarters of the London Stock Exchange, the group issued general proposals, calling the current economic system “unsustainable” and opposing public spending cuts. The only other such statement called for more transparency and democracy within the Corporation of London, the governing authority within the City district, which owns some of the land adjoining St Paul’s and which is taking legal action to evict the campers.

“From the moment the Occupy London Stock Exchange occupation started, in the full glare of the media and in the court of public opinion, we have continually been asked, ‘What do you want?’ “What are your demands?'” said Jamie Kelsey, a member of the corporations policy group.

“We are calling time on a system where corporates and their employees pursue profit at all costs. Just as corporates have played their role in the iniquities of the current system, they are also part of the solution and we invite them to join this important conversation.”

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Putin warns West as he launches presidential bid

 

 Associated Press

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sternly warned the West not to interfere in Russia’s elections, as he launched his campaign to reclaim the presidency in a speech Sunday before thousands of flag-waving supporters.

Putin stepped down in 2008 after two presidential terms, but kept his hold on power. He announced in September that he intended to return to the top job next year and was formally nominated Sunday by his United Russia party.

“All our foreign partners need to understand this: Russia is a democratic country, it’s a reliable and predictable partner with which they can and must reach agreement, but on which they cannot impose anything from the outside,” Putin told his audience.

The party congress, which was televised live, was aimed at boosting support for Putin and his party before parliamentary elections one week away.

Increasingly seen as representing the interests of a corrupt bureaucracy, United Russia has watched its public approval ratings plummet in recent months. The party is still certain to win the Dec. 4 election, but is expected to lose the current two-thirds majority that has allowed it to change the constitution at will.

Putin’s decision to swap jobs with President Dmitry Medvedev after the presidential vote in March, presented as a done deal at the party congress in September, also has soured the public mood. Many Russians are wary of Putin’s authoritarian tendencies and fear he will remain in power for 12 more years to become the longest-serving leader since Communist times.

Sunday’s congress began with a steel worker, a businessman, a farmer, a decorated special services officer and a noted film director standing up one after another to praise Putin as the only man capable of leading the country. The 11,000 delegates filling the Moscow sports arena chanted “Putin, Putin” and “The people trust Putin!”

Putin promised Russians stability, a word he repeated often throughout his speech. In countering criticism that he has tightened his control at the expense of democracy, Putin insisted that Russia needs a “stable political system” to guarantee “stable development” for decades to come.

“This is an extremely important task for Russia with its history of upheavals and revolutions,” he said.

He used the occasion to lash out at opposition leaders, saying they had brought the country to ruin when they served in the government in the 1990s.

“They killed industry, agriculture and the social sphere,” Putin said. “They stabbed the knife of civil war in the very heart of Russia by allowing bloodshed in the North Caucasus. In fact, they led the country to the brink of catastrophe, the edge of a precipice.”

He said Russia wants to develop cooperation with the West, but strongly warned the U.S. and Europe against paying too much attention to the Kremlin’s critics and providing them with financial support.

“We know that … representatives of some countries meet with those whom they pay money, the so-called grant recipients, give them instructions and guidance for what ‘work’ they need to do to influence the election campaign in our country,” Putin said.

“That’s a wasted effort, like throwing money to the winds,” he said.

Putin said those who provide grants to Russian non-governmental organizations “would do better using this money to pay back their domestic debt and stop conducting such a costly and inefficient foreign policy.”

Putin promised his countrymen that by maintaining a steady course they would build “a strong, rich and prosperous Russia.” Offering something for everyone, he pledged to make it easier to do business, to improve the educational system and health care, to raise taxes on the rich and to bolster the military.

“In the next five to 10 years we must take our armed forces to a qualitatively new level. Of course, this will require big spending …. but we must do this if we want to defend the dignity of our country,” he said.

Putin also said he would pursue his project of forming a Eurasian Union to boost integration between Russia and its neighbors, restoring some of the links that were destroyed when the Soviet Union collapsed 20 years ago.   He offered little new to address the calls from businessmen, economists and political liberals for reforms seen as necessary for Russia to modernize its economy and further its development.   “The signals so far have certainly been: no change, more of the same, muddling along, stability even if it comes at a high cost,” said Masha Lipman, a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center.   She said any reforms that would increase public participation and encourage initiative are rightly seen as a serious risk for the political monopoly that Putin has established.   “Power is concentrated at the top, there is ultimately one arbiter,” Lipman said. “I see no reason why this will change.”

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150,000 Iran missiles awaiting Israel

PressTV – 150,000 Iran missiles awaiting Israel

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi says Iran will teach Israel a good lesson if the entity tries to attack the Islamic Republic. Vahidi said on Sunday that Israel will not have a minimal chance of survival after venturing a military attack against Iran, as Iranian armed forces will pound all of Israel with thousands of missiles, Fars News Agency reported. “The enemy must answer this question, if it attacks Iran, for how long a battle and losing how many of its warships and vessels has it prepared itself?” “Why is the Zionist regime making threats (against Iran)? How many missiles have they prepared themselves for? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?” the Iranian defense minister asked. He advised the US and its allies to realize Iran’s incredible might and know that in the event of a war the Islamic Republic will teach the Americans what war really is and what soldiers are supposed to be like. Vahidi said Iranian armed forces will not hesitate to defend the country’s sovereignty, adding that if the Zionist regime decides to carry out its threats against Iran, Basij forces will take out revenge [on the entity] for years of [the entity] bullying oppressed nations.” The United States and Israel have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the “option” of a military strike, based on the allegation that Iran’s nuclear work may consist of a covert military agenda. Iran has refuted the allegations, saying that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. While Israel refuses to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities or to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty based on its policy of nuclear ambiguity, Iran has been subjected to snap International Atomic Energy Agency inspections due to its policy of nuclear transparency. Israel recently test fired a new long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This three-stage Jericho-3 missile, which is capable of delivering a 750-kilo warhead to a distance, is estimated to have a range of up to 10,000 kilometers. Paradoxically, Israel’s new nuke-capable missile, which can target many parts of the globe, is not considered a threat in the eyes of the West. MP/PKH/HGH

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Iran to Britain: Beware of hostilities

PressTV – Iran to Britain: Beware of hostilities

Chairman of Iran’s Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi
A senior Iranian lawmaker says Iran’s Majlis will take more serious decisions regarding the UK, if London persists with its hostile policies towards the Islamic Republic.

In an open session of Majlis on Sunday, Iranian lawmakers passed a double-urgency bill aimed at downgrading Tehran-London diplomatic ties to the level of charge d’affaires and limiting all economic and cultural collaborations to a minimum.

“The administration of this country (UK) has a thick record of aggressive measures against the Iranian nation and imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran is a small link in this chain,” head of the Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Sunday.

The Iranian lawmakers offered the bill in response to the UK’s recent decision to impose sanctions against the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, over the allegation that Tehran’s nuclear program may consist of a covert military agenda.

UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne declared on November 21 that London was terminating all contacts between the British financial system and the entire Iranian banking system. Iranian financial authorities say such contacts had been severed a long time ago and that the announcement is purely political and will in no way impact Iran’s financial dealings.

The Iranian lawmaker went on to say that the British administration had played a destructive role in inciting unrest in Iran following the 2009 presidential elections with the help of its embassy in Tehran.

“Today, Iran’s Majlis will firmly counter the policies of foreign countries that are in conflict with our national interests,” Boroujerdi stressed.

On November 22, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani announced that Tehran would review its relations with European countries, which have unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran. 

The sanctions were imposed after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors adopted a US-engineered resolution against Iran’s nuclear program on November 18 that was poorly supported by its members and strongly refuted by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member nations.

The resolution failed in its attempt to report Iran to the UN Security Council or in setting a deadline for Tehran to comply.

Iran has dismissed the report as “unbalanced, unprofessional,” and prepared with political motives and under extreme pressure by the United States. 

HMV/PKH/HGH

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