Tehran, Aug 7 (AP/UNB) — Iran's president reiterated Tuesday that if Washington wants to open negotiations with Tehran, it must lift all sanctions against his country "before everything else."
Iranian state TV said President Hassan Rouhani made the comments during a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Rouhani also reiterated that America's sanctions on his country are an act of "economic terrorism," the report said.
Tensions have escalated since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and imposed new and harsher sanctions on Iran's oil and banking sectors.
The U.S administration last week also announced financial sanctions on Zarif, after Trump last month imposed similar measures on Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The sanctions are seen as part of a U.S. pressure campaign on Iran.
Iran's U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, sent a letter Tuesday to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres protesting what he called the "illegal" sanctions on Zarif. Ravanchi said they are part of U.S. policy "waging economic terrorism against the Iranian people and bringing pressure to bear on their representatives."
Iran considers the sanctions "a flagrant infringement of the fundamental principles of diplomatic law" that contravene the privileges and immunities of U.N. diplomats and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said.
The ambassador said the sanctions signify "the U.S. regime despises diplomacy, which is one of the greatest achievements of humanity to preserve and uphold peace and security among nations" He said the U.S. action "threatens multilateralism as the foundation of international relations and sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for those who aspire to rather divide, not unite nations."
"It is imperative for the international community to condemn the United States' unlawful behavior in the interest of promoting multilateralism ... (and) stand firm in defending the established principles of international law," Ravanchi said.
Tehran, Aug 6 (AP/UNB) — Iran's president has reiterated that if Washington wants to open negotiations with Tehran, it must lift all sanctions against his country "before everything else."
Iranian state TV says President Hassan Rouhani made the comments during a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday.
Rouhani also reiterated that America's sanctions on his country are an act of "economic terrorism."
Tensions have escalated since President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and imposed new and harsher sanctions on Iran's oil and banking sectors.
The U.S administration last week also announced financial sanctions on Zarif, after Trump last month imposed similar measures on Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The sanctions are seen as part of a U.S. maximum pressure campaign on Iran.
Cairo, Aug 5 (AP/UNB) — A car packed with explosives being driven to carry out an attack collided with other vehicles and exploded in central Cairo outside Egypt's main cancer hospital, killing at least 20 people, the Interior Ministry said Monday.
Authorities had initially said the deaths were caused by a multi-vehicle accident Sunday night on the busy Corniche boulevard along the Nile River, with no explanation of how it caused an explosion that damaged the hospital's facade and even rooms inside.
But later Monday, the ministry later acknowledged that a car bomb was involved. It accused a militant group known as Hasm, which has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was moving the car — stolen in the Nile Delta — to carry out an attack elsewhere. The ministry did not say what the intended target was.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist incident" in a tweet, expressing condolences for the dead and vowed to "face and root out terrorism."
The explosion injured 47 others, some of them with burns and broken bones, the Health Ministry said. It did not say if any hospital patients or staff were among the casualties. At least 78 patients were evacuated to other hospitals.
The blast damaged the cancer hospital's main gate and several patient rooms and wards, according to a statement from the Cairo University, whose medical school uses the institution as an educational facility. Windows and glass doors on the hospital building were shattered.
"Parts of the ceiling of the hospital were collapsing as I got out of my room," said one patient, Mahmoud el-Sayed. "People were running everywhere and shouting."
Multiple vehicles on the street were damaged, burning those inside, said another witness, Mohamed Ashraf. "People were struggling to get the passengers out," he said.
In its initial account of the explosion, the Interior Ministry said a vehicle was driving against traffic on the boulevard and collided with up to three other cars, causing an explosion. It didn't elaborate when it later announced the car bomb, and it was not clear which vehicle in that scenario was the vehicle with explosives.
The police quickly cordoned off the area of the crash, as prosecutors began an investigation. Unidentified body parts were being collected in a body bag from the site, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in TV comments.
The hospital is close to Cairo's Tahrir Square, which became known internationally as the scene of mass protests in the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
After the blast, some patients with appointments Monday were left stranded, waiting outside the hospital with their relatives. Ahmed Ramadan, a farmer, had brought his daughter from their home 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of Cairo for chemotherapy.
"We do not know where to go," he said.
Tehran, Aug 5 (AP/UNB)— Iran's foreign minister on Monday lambasted recent U.S. financial sanctions against him, calling the move a "failure" for diplomacy amid escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf.
"Imposing sanctions against a foreign minister means failure" for any efforts at negotiations, Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at a press conference in Tehran, adding that it also means the side imposing the measures is "opposing talks."
The U.S. administration last week announced sanctions on Zarif, a month after President Donald Trump had imposed similar sanctions on Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The moves are seen as part of Washington's escalating campaign in what Trump calls "maximum pressure" on the Islamic Republic.
The U.S. has increasingly deployed military reinforcements to the region amid unspecified threats from Iran in the wake of Trump's withdrawal last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Zarif stressed that while there are no problems between the American and the Iranian people, Washington's policy of threatening war and "talking about war as an option that remains on the table cannot stand."
Zarif's press conference came a day after Iran announced its forces had seized a foreign ship in the Persian Gulf suspected of carrying smuggled fuel. It was the Revolutionary Guard's third seizure of a vessel in recent weeks and the latest show of strength by the paramilitary force amid the spike in tensions.
Iranian media reported that seven crew members were detained when the ship was seized last Wednesday with "smuggled fuel" from Iran but provided no details on the vessel or the nationality of the crew.
Tensions in the region escalated recently, with the United States boosting its military presence and six oil tankers targeted in the Gulf of Oman in unclaimed acts of sabotage that the U.S. blames on Iran. Iran has denied any involvement in those attacks.
In June, Iran shot down an American surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Trump came close to retaliating, but called off an airstrike at the last moment. Washington has since claimed that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone in the strait. Iran denies losing any aircraft in the area.
Maritime security in the region was further jolted in mid-July, when the Revolutionary Guard's naval forces confirmed they had seized a United Arab Emirates-based oil tanker, the Panamanian-flagged MT Riah, for allegedly smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.
Also in July, the Guard seized a British-flagged vessel near the Persian Gulf in the Strait of Hormuz, in what some Iranian officials suggested was retaliation for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar, near Spain.
Also, Iran recently began surpassing uranium enrichment limits set in the 2015 nuclear deal, but says these moves can be reversed if given enough economic incentives to offset U.S. sanctions.
Referring to the seizure of the British tanker, Zarif said Monday that it was not a reciprocal action for Gibraltar. He also told reporters he had received an invitation from Washington for a meeting during his New York trip in July, along with a warning about the sanctions.
"During my trip to New York, I was told I would be sanctioned within two weeks unless I accept their invitation, which I rejected," Zarif said.
U.S. officials have not confirmed either of Zarif's claims — neither the one about him being warned about the sanctions nor the one about the alleged invitation for talks.
Tehran, Aug 4 (AP/UNB) — Iran says a fighter jet has gone down in the south of the country near the Persian Gulf, with two pilots surviving the crash.
The state-run IRNA news agency quoted a local official as saying the crash was caused by a technical problem. Abdolhossein Rafipour, the governor of Tangestan, says the plane went down near the coastal town at 12:30 local time (0800 GMT).
The purpose of Sunday's flight was not immediately clear. Regular patrol flights are common in the region.
Iran's air force has an assortment of U.S.-made military aircraft purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It also has Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi planes. Decades of Western sanctions have made it hard to maintain the aging fleet.
Iranian media say the Revolutionary Guard has seized an oil tanker carrying 700,000 liters of "smuggled fuel" in the Persian Gulf.
The semi-official Fars news agency says seven crew members were detained when the ship was seized late Wednesday. It did not provide further details on the vessel or the nationality of the crew.
This would mark the third commercial vessel seized by Iranian forces in recent weeks and the second accused of smuggling fuel. Tensions have soared in the Gulf in recent months as the U.S. has boosted its military presence and oil tankers have been seized by Iranian forces or targeted by unknown saboteurs.
The tensions are rooted in the U.S. decision last year to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord and impose sweeping sanctions on Iran.