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Nikki Haley, US Representative to UN Suspects Iran of Hiding Nuclear Program

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The US Permanent Representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, who in recent weeks publicly expressed doubts about the feasibility of maintaining the Iranian nuclear deal, on Friday criticized Tehran for not allowing international inspectors to enter military facilities on the territory of the country. The diplomat claimed that the Islamic Republic had in the past concealed its nuclear activities, and also called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to give maximum attention to this issue.

“I trust the IAEA, but they are dealing with a country that has clearly lied in the past and secretly conducted nuclear programs,” Hayley told reporters in New York on her arrival from Vienna, where she held talks with the leadership of the atomic agency. As noted by the US permanent representative, Iran openly announced that it will not allow inspectors to its military facilities. In addition, she stated that there were “a lot of undeclared facilities” in the country that had not been tested by the IAEA.

According to her, the US calls on the atomic agency to “use all its authority” and closely monitor Iran’s nuclear activities in order to guarantee the country’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six world powers (Russia, Britain, China, the United States, France and Germany) reached an agreement on resolving the long-standing problem of Iran’s nuclear energy by adopting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (CFA). January 16, 2016, it was announced that the implementation of the SVAP, approved by the UN Security Council resolution, had been launched. This plan provides for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran in connection with its nuclear program of the United Nations, the United States and the European Union. In return, Tehran pledged to limit its nuclear activities, placing it under international control.

On August 16, the US permanent representative to the UN questioned the significance of the nuclear deal with Iran, saying that it allows Tehran to “keep the whole world hostage.” In turn, the UN Secretariat this week called on all parties to the agreement “to do everything possible to maintain and support this agreement.
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Taliban rejects calls for cease-fire by the Afghan Government, International community

In line with a landmark US-Taliban peace agreement — which was only cautiously welcomed by the Afghan government — some 5,000 Taliban prisoners should have been released months ago from government prisons in return for the estimated 1,000 captive security forces.

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The Taliban on Sunday rejected mounting calls for a ceasefire by the Afghan government and the global community, saying they were yet to find “an alternative” to the ongoing insurgency.

The group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, said on Twitter that the implementation of the Doha deal signed between the US and Taliban on Feb. 29 and the start of intra-Afghan negotiations would be necessary for the conflict to de-escalate and end. “If anyone seeks ceasefire before talks then such is illogical. War is raging precisely b/c we have yet to find an alternative,” he said.

Mujahed underlined that prisoner exchanges must be completed and intra-Afghan negotiations launched “immediately” for a resolution to the fighting.

Last week, Afghan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani warned the peace process might face “serious challenges” if the Taliban continued with the war.

In a virtual conference with the representatives of some 20 regional countries and international organizations, Ghani underlined that though the Afghan government had the capacity and political will to end the war, it had offered the Taliban a political solution to move away from violence.

“The champions of peace will be people of Afghanistan and the region. Regional support for a democratic system in Afghanistan would further strengthen regional cooperation,” he said.

The rejuvenated yet fragile Afghan peace deal hinges on sluggish prison swaps testing the patience of the warring parties.

In line with a landmark US-Taliban peace agreement — which was only cautiously welcomed by the Afghan government — some 5,000 Taliban prisoners should have been released months ago from government prisons in return for the estimated 1,000 captive security forces.

The freeing of prisoners came to a halt less than halfway through in May amid bitter exchanges and allegations, as well as a spike in violence across the war-ravaged country.

According to official sources, there are 12,000-15,000 inmates in Afghan government prisons, including militants from Pakistan, Central Asia and Gulf countries. No figures are available on captives held by the insurgents.

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Four Pakistan Army soldiers killed in North Waziristan near Afghan Border

The clash occurred near Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan, during a raid on a hideout and resulted in the death of four troops, the statement by Pakistan’s army said.

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Four Pakistan Army soldiers and as many militants were killed in a clash in Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan region on Sunday, the military said.

The clash occurred near Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan, during a raid on a hideout and resulted in the death of four troops, the statement by Pakistan’s army said.

“As soon as the troops cordoned off the area, terrorist opened fire. All dug out terrorists were shot down by security forces, ” the statement said, adding: “In exchange of fire, four soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom).”

The killed soldiers included Sepoy Muhammad Ismail Khan, Sepoy Muhammad Shahbaz Yasin, Sepoy Raja Waheed Ahmed and Sepoy Muhammad Rizwan Khan.

North Waziristan – once dubbed the heartland of militancy – is one of seven former semi-autonomous tribal regions in Pakistan where the army has conducted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Successive operations have pushed the TTP towards neighbouring Afghanistan, and Islamabad claims the terrorist network has now set up bases across the border to attack Pakistani security forces.

The military operations also displaced over a million people, but the government claims most of them have returned to their homes. The tribal agencies were recently given the status of districts and merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

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Hundreds protest in the UK againt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

The protest organized by the Stop the War Coalition took place days after the UK government’s decision to continue arming the Saudi-led coalition.

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Hundreds of people on Sunday (July 12) gathered in front of the Embassy of the UAE, in central London to call on the British government to end arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom and the UAE.

The protest organized by the Stop the War Coalition took place days after the UK government’s decision to continue arming the Saudi-led coalition.

A statement on Stop the War Coalition’s web site said: “Anti-war campaigners say Saudi-led intervention in Yemen will only compound existing tensions and violence in the crisis-ridden state.”

The anti-war group accuses the Saudi regime of playing a leading role in almost every “anti-democratic development in the Middle East.”

On July 7, Britain announced that it will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia a year after the court of appeal declared the UK government acted unlawfully by selling arms to the kingdom without first assessing whether they were involved in breaches of international humanitarian law.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a written statement to parliament that an official government review found that airstrikes in Yemen that breached international humanitarian law were only “isolated incidents.”

“The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year,” she said.

Britain is one of Saudi Arabia’s top arms suppliers. Over the past five years, the UK’s top arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, sold Saudi Arabia £15 billion ($18.8 million) worth of arms.

The government review, sparked by the court of appeal’s decisions in June 2019, assessed examples of Saudi airstrikes using British equipment that could have breached international humanitarian law and killed civilians.

The arms and equipment sold to the Saudi Kingdom by the U.K. include air-to-air missiles, aircraft components, sniper rifles, anti-riot gear, ballistic shields and body armour.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.

Karim El-Bar, Sibel Uygun

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