Iran finds terrorists’ large arms depot

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TEHRAN – The Iranian minister of intelligence has said that security forces struck a terrorist group possessing large ammunition and arms.

Mahmoud Alavi said on Monday that following a timely measure by the security forces the terrorist group came under attack on Sunday, ISNA reported.

He made the remarks in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of Eid al-Fitr ceremony held on Monday in Tehran. He did not provide further details on the anti-terror operation.

SP/PA

 

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Iran Private Airlines on Weekend Plane Shopping Spree

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Major new agreements between Iranian airlines and rival plane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus were unveiled over the weekend, based on which Iranian carriers are to buy a total of 83 passenger jets from the two companies.
On Friday, Qeshm Air announced a preliminary deal with Boeing to buy 10 B737Max passenger jets. The airline’s CEO, Mahmoud Shekarabi, said the agreement was signed recently in Tehran following talks during IATA’s 73rd Annual General Meeting held in Cancun, Mexico, on June 4-6.
“During this event, we had the opportunity to meet with top executives of prominent global plane manufacturing companies, including Boeing, Airbus and a few others,” he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency on Friday.
“Boeing expressed readiness to sell planes to Qeshm Air [at the AGM], and in follow-up meetings in Tehran … We reached a good deal,” he added.
Shekarabi said Boeing has committed to receiving all the required permits for the order, including those from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, adding that deliveries would start as of 2022.
The order is expected to be finalized by early August, according to the chief executive, who added that Qeshm Air is also planning to buy five secondhand Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The airline’s announcement came after Zagros Airlines and Iran Air Tours signed memoranda of understanding with Boeing’s European rival Airbus at Paris Air Show on Thursday to purchase a total of 73 aircraft. The orders mainly comprise the A320neo family.
“The A320neo Family with its unique features enabling operational efficiency and reliability will contribute to our growth and expansion strategy,” Iran Air Tours Chairman Majid Shekari was quoted as saying in an Airbus press release. 
“Our success as a domestic and regional airline will be reinforced by this investment in the world’s leading single-aisle aircraft.”
Airbus President Fabrice Bregier said his company looks forward to a “long-term partnership” with the carrier.
Iran Air Tours is ordering 45 Airbus–all of them from the A320neo family.
Zagros Airlines is ordering 28 new aircraft–20 A320neo and 8 A330neo aircraft. It is currently the largest domestic single-aisle Airbus operator in Iran with 11 A320ceo family aircraft, according to an Airbus statement.
“We have been a loyal operator of the A320 Family and the performance, operational and cost efficiencies of Airbus aircraft was the selling point for us to order these aircraft,” Zagros CEO Seyyed Abdolreza Mousavi was quoted as saying. 
“This represents a practical step for Zagros Airlines’ fleet renewal and expands our operations both domestically and internationally.”

 Fresh Impetus

“The spate of new deals underscores the strength, desire and impetus for Iranian airlines to invest in new products and airplanes so that they can better compete on a pan-regional and international basis. The only way that they can stay relevant as the Iranian travel market opens up is by procuring new, advanced, fuel-saving airplanes like the 737MAX or A320neo families,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at the Dubai-based Strategic Aero Research, told Financial Tribune.
“Qeshm Air, along with Aseman Airlines, have opted for the hot-selling 737MAX, which took the Paris Air Show this week by storm—whereas Zagros and Iran Air Tours opted for the rival A320neo,” he added.
The weeklong Paris Air Show, known as the world’s biggest air show, has been held every odd year since 1949 at Paris–Le Bourget Airport in north Paris, France. 
The event’s main purpose is to showcase military and civilian aircraft and equipment. This year’s event will conclude on Sunday. 
Boeing won the hot race for new orders with the European rival Airbus at the Paris Air Show where the American company showcased a new model of its best-selling 737 airliner.
Airbus said on Thursday it won 326 net new orders and commitments while US rival said its total was 571, including 147 new orders and commitments for the 737 MAX 10, plus 214 of other conversions to the MAX 10 from other models to support the launch of the new plane, Reuters reported.
Qeshm Air’s newly-announced Boeing deal comes after a firm deal the planemaker signed with Iran Aseman Airlines on June 10. Based on the contract, Aseman buys 30 B737Max jets, with the option of adding 30 more in the future.
The aircraft, which have yet to be licensed by the US, are scheduled to be delivered as of 2022.
Airbus also said on Thursday the new deals with Iran Air Tours and Zagros are contingent upon approvals, including those from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The deals come amid uncertainty over US President Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear deal.
Iran has received three Airbus and four ATR planes, as part of two Iran Air orders, including 100 Airbus and 20 French-Italian ATR planes.
Boeing has expressed confidence the deal it signed last year with the flag carrier will proceed without a problem. Iran Air’s first Boeing delivery is scheduled in April 2018.

Test for Trump

“These deals put US President Trump under pressure to get off the wall and make a decision about whether he’ll allow these deals to be signed off and come to fruition,” Ahmad said.
“Particularly in the case of the Boeing sales to these airlines, especially Iran Air, Trump can ill afford to sit on the sidelines because his promise about creating US jobs rides on orders like this and he’d have to be mad not to allow them to stand.” 
Boeing has been lobbying non-stop to save the plane deals with Iran. It says its contract with Aseman alone will support 18,000 American jobs.
“Equally, Boeing wouldn’t want to lose these deals for fear of Airbus locking them out of such a lucrative market either—Trump knows that Iran has stuck by the Iran deal and it is high time the Boeing orders were given the green light,” Ahmad told us.
Assuming that there will be a green light from the US Administration, the analyst says, the proliferation of Iranian airlines into the Persian Gulf and beyond can only mean good things for business and leisure travelers.
“This will have the added spinoff benefit of stimulating demand and economic activity. This is why getting these deals signed off is hugely important—not just for Iran, but also for the tens of thousands of direct jobs at Boeing and hundreds of thousands of more jobs linked to them view their supply chain.”
Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at aviation consultancy Teal Group Corp., was quoted by New York Times as saying that the willingness of Airbus and Boeing to engage with Iran “reflects a belief that Trump will need to choose between jobs and foreign policy considerations, and he hasn’t proven particularly able to roll back international trade agreements.”
Farhad R. Alavi, a managing partner at Akrivis Law Group, a Washington-based firm that specializes in sanctions and export laws, also said the aircraft deals have placed Trump in a conundrum.
“The civilian aircraft industry is one of a shrinking number of major manufacturing sectors where we maintain a very clear competitive advantage,” Alavi told New York Times. 
“A hard line saying ‘no’ to such major aircraft deals at a time when demand has dwindled elsewhere does not inspire confidence in this president being committed to quality American jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector.”

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Iranian Advertiser Chides ICT Guild Head

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Founder of Anetwork, an Internet advertising firm, has castigated the director of the ICT Guild Organization, Naser-Ali Sa’adat, for opposing the establishment of the Iranian Guild for Online Businesses.
Sa’adat has criticized the move by the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade to allow the founding of a special guild for online businesses, calling it “illegal.”
“As per law, all online businesses must receive their permits only from the ICT Guild, he had said earlier this week, stressing that the creation of a new guild “will be against the law.”
The advertiser Shayan Shalileh says the aim of creating the new guild is to expand digital businesses and give them a joint voice, the local internet business news agency WEBNA reported.
“Digital business has become popular in recent years, and the ICT Guild has done next to nothing to help such businesses. Now that the issue has been brought up, the ICT Guild is creating unnecessary hurdles in the way,” he said.
Sa’adat’s remarks came in the wake of the ministry’s decision to create the specialized guild for companies active in the online sector.
The High Commission for Supervision of Guilds — which is headed by Industries Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh — has been tasked with the establishment of the new body.
Businesses active in the sector have been asked to register for membership through the new guild, a process currently supervised by the ICT Guild.
Shalileh dismissed Sa’adat’s claims, saying, when the ICT Guild was born in 2003, online businesses were not as widespread as they currently are, and the lack of sufficient knowledge by ICT Guild members was apparent.
Although, some in the field have criticized government oversight of the guild others believe if professionals in the sector head the guild it would be much better.
Director of the Iran Online Businesses Guild, Reza Olfatnasab, believes that instead of boycotting the new guild, stakholders should join it and draw on the opportunities the new organization has to  offer.

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Bahram Beizai receives Honorary Doctorate from University of St. Andrews

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TEHRAN – The University of St. Andrews in Scotland awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Letters) to acclaimed Iranian director and playwright Bahram Beizai on June 22.

The director was honored along with eleven other distinguished individuals from different countries between June 20 and 23, the university has announced on its website.

Beizai’s award ceremony was followed by a two-day workshop on June 23 and 24 to celebrate his unique, scholarly and creative contributions to Iranian culture, cinema and theater over the last 55 years.

The event includes the presentation of several academic papers on Beizai’s cinema and theater, the screening of his first full-length feature film “Ragbar” (Downpour 1972) and a solo performance of the first part of his play “The One Thousand and First Night” (2003) by his actress wife, Mojdeh Shamsai.

The workshop has been funded by the School of Modern Languages (University of St. Andrews), Institute of Iranian Studies (University of St. Andrews), and the Honeyman Foundation.

The lectures and film screening session have been arranged by Saeed Talajooy, an Iranian lecturer in Persian Literature at the School of Modern Languages. 

Beizai is an acclaimed Iranian film director and playwright. He has authored over seventy books in Persian, including plays and screenplays, histories and research works, as well as interviews and stories. His first feature film, “Downpour”, is regarded as one of the most successful Iranian films ever made. Beizai is also an influential director and innovator of the Iranian New Wave movement of cinema.

Photo: Director and playwright Bahram Beizai in an undated photo 

RM/YAW


 

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Brics Contributing Significantly to Global Economy

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Brics will continue to be a growth engine of the world economy despite difficulties and challenges, Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie said. “We firmly believe the economic condition of Brics will be better under our joint effort,” said Xiao in an interview on the sidelines of the second Brics finance ministers and central bank governors meeting.
Slower-than-expected global economic recovery, policy uncertainties in developed countries, de-globalization and world protectionism caused a complex economic environment for Brics, Xinhua quoted Xiao as saying.
Brics is experiencing a shift in gears after years of robust economic development and needs to develop new economic growth points via in-depth structural adjustment, he said.
Brics should create new economic growth models, promote structural reform and seek new growth momentum, while strengthening policy coordination and enhance cooperation, Xiao said.
Xiao highlighted the fruitful results of the meeting, saying that Brics finance ministers and central bank governors agreed to enhance macro-economic policy coordination, combat protectionism and deepen cooperation under the financial and monetary channels of the G20.
All sides agreed to make full use of the platform of the New Development Bank, promote international tax cooperation and set up cooperation on public-private partnerships, Xiao added.
“This meeting in Shanghai is an important stepping stone to the summit in Xiamen under the Chinese presidency,” said Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., vice president of the New Development Bank.
The 2017 Brics Summit will be held in Xiamen, southeastern China’s Fujian Province, on September 3-5 this year.
“When the Brics mechanism was first launched 10 years ago, there was lots of skepticism. The last ten years has showed the mechanism is not artificial. It is a working mechanism,” Paulo said. “I believe the next 10 years will be very important for Brics countries.”
Given that Brics countries are already about the same economic size as the G7, Paulo said he believes Brics would be larger than the G7 in the next 10 years.
He also expressed confidence that the NDB would consolidate and run as a major bank with global reach within 10 years. Renewable energy is very important for the NDB, in the next five years, around two-thirds of its projects will be in renewable energy, according to Paulo.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will push the development of the Brics New Development Bank, ensuring it plays an important role in BRICS cooperation, according to an official document released after the meeting.

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Public Coop. Needed to Help Addicts

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Public authorities and people need to change their mindsets to accept rehabilitated drug addicts back into the society, said Mohammad Hadi Ayyazi, deputy health minister.
“There are enough treatment facilities for the 1.3 million addicts in the country, but the problem we are facing is the vicious circle where they go back to addiction after being rejected in the society and families,” he told IRNA on Monday. Noting that only 5%-10% of drug addicts in Iran stay clean after rehab and the rest return to substance abuse, he said, “The issue to be addressed is not shortage of de-addiction treatment centers, but training the public psyche to accept recovering addicts and welcome them back into the society. Drug relapse is a common occurrence globally with only 20% of addicts staying clean after rehab and recovery.
“Social ills like addiction and divorce are complex issues, and their remedy calls for intersectional cooperation by the government and the general public,” he said.

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Iran, UNDP extend co-op on Carbon Sequestration Project

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TEHRAN — United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Iran Forests, Range and Watershed management Organization renewed cooperation on Carbon Sequestration Project (CSP) in Iran.

Carbon sequestration is a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form, as in plants or soil. The project aims to sequester atmospheric carbon in arid and semi-arid areas of Iran and improve the socio-economic status of local communities.  

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Gary Lewis and the director of the Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization Khodakaram Jalali signed a memorandum of understating (MOU) to enter the third phase of the project here on Saturday. 

As per the MOU the project is expected to cover four provinces of Yazd, North Khorasan, South Khorasan and Golestan provinces.

So far UNDP and the government of Iran have financed the first two phases of the project by allotting $1.6 million and $3.2 million respectively. 

According to UN Resident Coordinator Lewis, UNDP has allotted some $380,000 for the third phase of the project and Iran will also allocate some $7.6 million to accomplish the desirable goals of the new phase of the project.

The first phase of this project was initiated in the South Khorasan Province with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 2003. Now through up-scale and replication, the project is at various stages of implementation across 18 provinces in Iran. Given its success, it is quickly developing into the rural development model of choice in Iran. The second phase of the project also started in March 2010. 

Over the years, the project has demonstrated both the carbon sequestration potential of significant quantities of marginal land and the potential of local communities to engage in sustainable rural development. The project has empowered local communities, generated sustainable enterprises, built local institutions, thus ensuring ownership by local communities. These communities have, in turn, assumed responsibility for the restoration, conservation and sustainable use of Iran’s limited land and water resources.

According to UNDP official website overall, the tenets of the Carbon Sequestration Project methodology has been integrated into the 6th five-year national development plan, improved the productivity of arid lands, and covers 2,832,471 hectares including 623 villages and 214,105 residents.

In Birjand, South Khorasan province, which is the main project site some 577 permanent job opportunities were generated, 63 Village Development Groups (VDGs) and a micro-credit system was established and more than 2,400 loans were provided, over 30,000 hectares of land was rehabilitated, and women have been involved in all project initiatives; approximately one-third (8,600 out of 24,500) of the person-days of labor needed for restoration works was provided by female VDGs.

Accordingly at replication sites the number of newly-formed Village Development Groups (VDGs) has risen to 1,744 groups, 255 micro-credit funds have been established, 25,223 hectares of rehabilitation measures were carried out by VDGs, and 26 capacity-building workshops on participatory natural resources management approaches were held for 910 provincial managers, social mobilization consultants and facilitators.

MQ/M

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FIFA President Infantino congratulates Iran on World Cup qualification

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President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Gianni Infantino has congratulated Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) on booking a berth in the 2018 World Cup.

Iran national football team advanced to successive FIFA World Cups for the first time in their history Monday night.

Team Melli defeated Uzbekistan 2-0 in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi scored for the Persian Gulf country.

“After a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan on Monday evening in Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the third team – the first in Asia – to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, joining the host country, Russia, and five-time FIFA World Cup winners Brazil,” said Infantino in a letter addressed to FFIRI president Mehdi Taj.

“Having now returned to Switzerland from a trip to Korea Republic and China PR, I would like herewith to congratulate you and your national team on this qualification for the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world,” FIFA President wrote.

“This is the second consecutive and fifth overall qualification to the FIFA World Cup for the Islamic Republic of Iran, having previously appeared at football’s showpiece in 1978, 1998, 2006 and 2014. The achievement of the Team Melli is the result of the determination of everyone involved. My sincere congratulations go to the players, coach Carlos Queiroz, the entire technical and medical staff, and the fans. I wish you all the best and am looking forward to seeing you again soon,” Infantino concluded.   

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