President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday sought international consensus against the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and the restoration of peace and stability in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
In a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday, Ahmadinejad hailed his Egyptian counterpart’s efforts to restore peace, security and stability in Gaza.
“Our human and religious duty obliges us to make efforts to prevent the massacre of innocent people in Gaza and restore peace and sustainable security in this region and also the entire land of Palestine,” IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Ahmadinejad further called for a clear plan to end the violence and bloodshed in Gaza, calling for an international consensus against the Israeli aggression.
The recent attacks on Gaza rage on as Israel keeps up its crippling blockade on the strip, which it imposed in 2007.
“It is necessary to make all efforts to stop the massacre of women and children and the innocent people of Gaza and Palestine,” the president added.
Morsi, for his part, expressed concern over the situation of the people of Gaza and said he had been in contact with the leaders of other countries to reach an international consensus against Israel.
Securing Israel’s Survival
Earlier in the day, President Ahmadinejad said the Tel Aviv regime has staged a war against Gaza in order to secure its survival.
Ahmadinejad condemned the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip and called on the western countries--which have defended Israel’s occupation of Palestine for decades--to ‘allow the Palestinian nation to control their own destiny’.
The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli fire for six consecutive days. Israeli airstrikes, shelling, and artillery fire have left nearly 100 Palestinians dead and more than 700 others injured since November 14. Some of the injured are in critical condition. Many of the fatalities are women and children.
The atrocities have sparked global condemnations. People in many Muslim and non-Muslim countries, including Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany and Britain held demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Israel conducted more than hundreds of aerial and sea attacks against the strip and naval its gunboats fired shells and rockets on the coastal territory.
The Israeli military frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of international law, and civilians are often killed or injured.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.
Ahmadinejad also spoke on the phone with his Pakistani counterpart, President Asif Ali Zardari. The conversation mainly focused on exploring ways to expand economic ties.
Pointing to the upcoming summit meeting of the Group of Eight Developing Countries (D8), to be held in Islamabad, Ahmadinejad expressed confidence that meeting will be successful in terms of enhancing relations of member-states.
President Zardari, for his part, said that Pakistan is trying to expand ties between the two countries in different political, economic, and cultural areas.
Ahmadinejad will head to Islamabad on November 22, 2012 at the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart.
The D8 group comprises Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in the Islamabad summit.
According to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, during the meeting, Pakistan will assume the rotating presidency of D8 until 2014.
Before the official inauguration of the summit, the D8 foreign ministers will hold a preparatory meeting presided over by Rabbani Khar.
The D8 group, with a population of one billion people, has a combined market value of one trillion dollars.
The group is determined to boost its trade volume to $500 billion by 2018.
Syrians Can Overcome Crisis Through Unity
A Syrian Sunni cleric Sheikh Muhammad Riyadh Ajaj said people of Syria could overcome the ongoing crisis and establish peace and security in their country through unity and convergence.
Talking to IRNA on the sidelines of Syria National Dialog meeting in Tehran on Monday, he described the conference as a fruitful gathering inspired by Iran’s goodwill and said holding such meetings could lead to practical solutions to the Syrian crisis.
He appreciated Iran’s hosting of the gathering aimed at solving the present problems in Syria and called for continuation of such meetings.
Commenting on the best practical ways for Syria to get out of its present critical situation, the scholar believed the best way helping the issue in a positive way is sincere motivation and firm will by all Syrian parties.
He said all Syrian parties should try to remove their differences and give a priority to the interests of the nation and not their own benefits.
The sheikh further urged both Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Syria to maintain unity and avoid divergence.
He expressed satisfaction with the start of reforms in Syria and stressed that continuation of the present situation would harm all Syrian parties.
Sheikh Ajaj also termed Iran as a friend of the Syrian nation and stressed that Zionists are the main enemy of all Muslims particularly the Syrian nation.
Over 200 Syrian politicians and representatives from political parties in the country s well as President Bashar Al-Assad’s envoys attended in the Tehran meeting for two days to discuss ways to end the ongoing crisis in the country.
Soltanieh: IAEA Confirms Iran Peaceful Nuclear Program
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In an interview with the Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Amano confirmed that a large number of nuclear energy facilities in Iran are under IAEA supervision and are used for peaceful purposes.
The report by the IAEA has once again been circulated to the western media days before being presented to the Board of Governors of the nuclear agency.
According to the report, Iran is ready to significantly boost output at its most advanced nuclear plant.
The last round of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA was held in the Austrian capital of Vienna on August 24.
Iran and the IAEA had also held talks in Vienna on May 14 and 15. Before that session, the two sides’ representatives held two rounds of talks in Tehran, in February and January.
Soltanieh also said Iran had unloaded fuel from its first atomic power plant as part of a normal technical procedure linked to transferring responsibility for the plant from Russian engineers.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency said in the report on November 17 on Iran’s nuclear program that fuel was unloaded from the Bushehr plant in October and transferred to a spent fuel pool.
It came some two months after Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the long-postponed plant was operating at full capacity.
The Bushehr nuclear plant is a symbol of Iran’s peaceful nuclear ambitions, disputed by the West, and any new hitch would probably be seen as an embarrassment both for Tehran and Moscow.
It was plugged into Iran’s national grid in September 2011, a move intended to end years of delays in its construction.
The report, submitted to IAEA member states late on Friday, did not give a reason for the fuel removal at the 1,000-megawatt reactor near the Persian Gulf city of Bushehr.
Soltanieh suggested the fuel move was linked to the gradual transfer of responsibility for operating the plant from Russia to Iran.
However, a diplomat familiar with the issue claimed it meant the plant was shut down.
It is a ‘very normal technical procedure (during the transfer) ... to make sure every safety aspect is taken into consideration’, he told Reuters.
Early last year, Iran said it was having to remove fuel for tests. Russian builder NIAEP--part of Rosatom--was last month quoted as saying Bushehr would be formally ‘handed over for use’ to Iran in March 2013, whereas earlier officials had said that would happen by the end of this year.
Iran says electricity generation is the main motivation for nuclear work but its adversaries claim Tehran’s underlying goal is atomic weapons capability, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations.
Iran denies the charges and stresses that as a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence indicating diversion in Tehran’s nuclear energy program toward military purposes.
However, the Bushehr plant is not considered a major proliferation threat by western powers, whose concern is focused on sites where Iran enriches uranium, which they claim can have both civilian and military purposes.
The Bushehr nuclear power plant construction was started by Germany’s Siemens before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed shah, and it was taken over by Russian engineers in the 1990s.
In theory, weapons-grade plutonium can be extracted from spent fuel, but this would require a reprocessing facility. Former chief nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen said the spent fuel now at Bushehr was ‘not really’ a proliferation risk.
“It is recently irradiated, so it takes quite some time, a year, to cool it down to level where reprocessing is feasible,” Heinonen, now at Harvard University, said. He added it should also be sent back to Russia under its agreement with Iran.
Soltanieh said the IAEA report--which showed Iran pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment program in defiance of UN Security Council demands to suspend it--proved that Tehran’s nuclear program is ‘exclusively for peaceful purposes’.
Iran’s nuclear activities are continuing without any interruption, the Iranian envoy added.
22nd Navy Fleet Back Home After Mission
The Iranian Navy’s 22nd Fleet of warships returned home on Monday after accomplishing a 75-day mission in high seas where it defended the country’s interests.
The 22nd Fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy includes the Kharg vessel and Martyr Naqdi Warship. Kharg has 250 crew members and can carry three helicopters, Fars News Agency reported.
Late in October, the fleet that was dispatched to international waters docked at Port Sudan.
It has been sent to international waters with the aim of extending the message of peace of friendship to the neighboring countries and ensuring security for shipping lines and vessels against piracy.
It also patrolled the coasts off Djibouti and Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
Iran’s Navy has been multiplying its presence in the international waters since last year, deploying vessels to the Indian Ocean and dispatching two ships via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in February 2011.
In addition, in line with international drive to combat piracy, the Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.
The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for thousands of vessels traveling annually between Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Speaker for Solidarity Among Iraqi Groups
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani called for unity and solidarity among Iraqi groups and tribes, warning against the detriments of internal disputes for the country.
In a meeting with leader of Iraq’s Islamic Jama’ah Shaykh Ali Baper on Monday, Larijani said some countries seek to create unrest and ‘a political and security crisis’ in Iraq.
“Protecting the territorial integrity, ensuring progress and resolving Iraq’s economic problems depend on strengthening the peace and unity among all Iraqi groups and ethnicities,” ICANA quoted Larijani as saying.
“In the current situation, chaos, dispute, and division in Iraq is not in the interest of any group; and internal conflicts would harm the Iraqi nation the most,” the Iranian lawmaker added.
Support for Iraq’s development as well as peace and national unity in the country constitutes a core policy of the Islamic Republic, Larijani said.
The speaker added that the Islamic Republic would continue supporting all Iraqi groups and tribes in line with efforts to consolidate Iraq’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity and progress.
Baper, for his turn, expressed gratitude for Iran’s support for national unity and solidarity in Iraq.
Last week, Prime Minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Idris Barzani visited Tehran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials.
Heading a delegation including KRG’s Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami, Chairman of Board of Investment Herish Muharam, and Director of Department of Foreign Relations Falah Mustafa Bakir, Barzani discussed regional developments, bilateral ties, and ways to expand economic cooperation with Iranian officials.
Help Offer to Gaza Victims
A senior Iranian Jewish lawmaker Siamak Marreh Sedq on Monday underlined his readiness to go to Gaza to help the Palestinians injured during the recent Israeli regime’s aggression on the Gaza Strip.