Former MP proposes two-house system

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TEHRAN – Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, the former deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, has said it is necessary to establish a two-house system, saying many countries have successfully implemented such a system.

In an interview with the Arman newspaper published on Tuesday, Bahonar said the current system has many structural problems.

“I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the country cannot be ruled by one Majlis (parliament),” he said, adding that a new two-House system is needed to go forward.

MH/PA

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Ashgabat hosting seminar on marine spatial planning

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TEHRAN – The International Ocean Institute (IOI) is holding a seminar on marine spatial planning in Ashgabat for experts from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the Turkmen government said in a message on Tuesday.

“The seminar is aimed at improving the competence and practical skills in marine spatial planning that is related to understanding the role of ecosystems. Special emphasis is placed on coordination of interests of various agencies when working in coastal zones and the sea,” read the message.

MH/PA

 

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Talks needed to address Turkey’s damming projects: top MP

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TEHRAN – A senior lawmaker underlined on Tuesday the necessity to hold talks with neighboring countries regarding Turkey’s large scale damming projects, also known as GAP.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said if the projects are carried out without consultations with other countries, all regional countries, including Turkey itself, will have to face its consequences.

The war-torn Iraq and Syria have been adversely affected by Turkey’s damming projects which trap waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, leading to dust storms and other environmental problems.

MH/PA

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Zarif: Iran to retaliate if JCPOA violated

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned the Donald Trump administration that Tehran has the option to abandon limits on its nuclear program in case the nuclear agreement, officially called the JCPOA, is violated.

“If it comes to a major violation, or what in the terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal,” Zarif told The National Interest on Monday.

The nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union on July 14, 2015. The UN Security Council approved a resolution on July 20, 2015, endorsing the agreement. It took effect on January 16, 2016.

“As we’ve said in the past, we wanted that agreement to be the foundation and not the ceiling. But in order for that to serve as a solid foundation, we want to make sure that the obligations by all sides have been fully and faithfully implemented. And if we get that, then we have an opening to further progress,” he said.

Zarif: We either win together or lose together

On the regional situation, Zarif said, “We don’t see the situation in our region as a winning or losing battle. It’s a situation where the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq has led everybody to lose. Because we believe that the situation in today’s world is so interconnected that we cannot have winners and losers; we either win together or lose together.”

Zarif also said that Shias, Sunnis and Kurds are all important segment of Iraqi society with whom Iran needs to have relations.

“Iran has rushed to the aid of the Iraqis, not just the Shias, but everybody. For us, the Shias, the Sunnis, the Kurds—all of them are an important segment of Iraqi society with whom we need to have relations.” 

Citing an example of Iran’s help to Iraqis when Daesh invaded Iraq in 2014, the foreign minister said, “We went to the support of the Kurds: when they had been invaded by ISIS, we were the first to go to Erbil to secure it and to rescue it, basically, from a Daesh occupation.” 

He added there are certain countries in the Middle East who have been “consistently” supporting terrorism.

“You have countries in the region who have consistently supported extremists… Some countries consistently supported the wrong groups—these are the same countries from whose nationals, almost 94 percent of those engaged in acts of terror, came—so we are talking about a consistent record on their side and a consistent record on the Iranian side.” 

He added that Iran does not seek to exclude Saudi Arabia from the security calculus of the Middle East region.

“We believe that Saudi Arabia is an important part of that security, as we believe that other countries in the region should be an important part of that security understanding.”

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Trump certifies for second time Iran nuclear deal

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TEHRAN – Volatile U.S. President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized.

The planned announcement of the certification was delayed hours due to hours of arguing with his top national security advisers.

Trump has repeatedly condemned the deal brokered by President Barack Obama. The decision on Monday was the second time his administration certified Iran’s compliance, and aides said a frustrated Mr. Trump had told his security team that he would not keep doing so indefinitely.

Administration officials announced the certification on Monday evening while emphasizing that they intended to toughen enforcement of the deal, apply new sanctions on Iran for its support of what they called “terrorism” and other destabilizing activities, and negotiate with European partners to craft a broader strategy to increase pressure on Tehran.

Aides said Mr. Trump had insisted on such actions before agreeing to the consensus recommendation of his national security team.

“The president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal — a bad deal for the United States,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters at a briefing on Monday before the decision was made.

By law, the administration is required to notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the deal, which limited its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions. With the latest deadline approaching on Monday, the issue set off a sharp debate between the president and his own team, starting last week, aides said.

At an hour-long meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. 

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Rights advocates indifferent to Syrians’ suffering: top MP

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TEHRAN – A senior Iranian lawmaker has criticized the self-proclaimed advocates of human rights for their indifference toward the sufferings of the Syrian people, saying they do not take any steps to help resolve the raging conflict.

“While people in some parts of Syria are under terrorist siege and going through a critical situation, the so-called defenders of human rights do not take any steps to help Syrians and lessen their suffering,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi said in a meeting with Hussein al-Raqeeb, a member of People’s Council of Syria, on Sunday in Tehran.

MH/PA

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‘Big risk’ for U.S. if IRGC named terrorist: military chief

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TEHRAN – Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, warned Washington on Monday that putting the IRGC on the list of terrorist groups will pose a “big risk” for U.S. forces and its military bases in the region.

Addressing a forum of the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the northeastern city of Mashhad, the major general advised U.S. officials to guard their words “more rationally and prudently” when talking about “powerful” countries like Iran.

U.S. officials said in February that the Trump administration was considering a proposal that could lead to potentially designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
 

Iran’s missile power not open to talks 

Elsewhere his remarks, the top general said the Iranian military has promoted its defense capabilities more than ever.

“New security threats being devised by the arrogant powers and regional reactionaries have targeted the Islamic Republic of Iran which makes it essential to raise awareness and increase readiness to counter the threats,” the senior commander noted.

Bagheri noted that the Iranian people have stood strong in defending the country and do not let others interfere in their internal affairs.

Elsewhere, he said that Iran’s purely “defensive” missile power is “non-negotiable”. 

On 15 June, the U.S. Senate voted nearly unanimously for legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile activity, its alleged human rights violation and claims of support for terrorist organizations.

NA/PA


 

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Actor Davud Rashidi memorabilia on show at Tehran theater complex

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TEHRAN – An exhibition of personal handwritings, awards, books and photos of actor Davud Rashidi opened at Tehran’s City Theater Complex on the actor’s birthday on Sunday.

Rashidi, the 83-year-old star of memorable movies like Kiumars Purahamd’s “Bibi Chelcheleh” and Ali Hatami’s “Kamalolmolk”, died of heart failure on August 26, 2016.

The ceremony was attended by Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Reza Salehi-Amiri, Deputy Culture Minister for Artistic Affairs Ali Moradkhani, and a large number of artists and cineastes. 

Speaking at the ceremony, his widow, Ehteram Borumand, said that Rashidi believed in the deep influence of theater on people and the society.

She also emphasized the need for the establishment of a department for theater and said, “Theater also needs a separate department like cinema.”

In his brief words, Rashidi’s old friend Ali Nasirin said that Rashidi’s special privilege was his broad knowledge of dramatic arts and literature.

“His prudent choices of roles indicated his knowledge and intelligence. He was a fine actor on stage, in films and TV series. Of course, he used to teach theater to all and had good cultural deportment,” he remarked.

Culture minister called Rashidi a great man in the artistic society and an influential figure in Iran’s theater.

“We can say that many theatrical figures are indebted to Rashidi and the actors of his generation,” he added.

Moradkhani also announced that there are plans to open a museum of theater in the future and Rashidi’s memorabilia will be displayed in the museum.

The exhibit will be running in the complex until August 26, the death anniversary of the actor. 

Photo: Tehran City Council Member Ahmad Masjed-Jamei (L) and director Marzieh Borumand (R) look at Davud Rashidi’s memorabilia exhibited at Tehran’s City Theater Complex on July 16, 2017. (Mehr/Shahab Qayyumi)

RM/YAW

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“Retouch” crew pay tribute to Maryam Mirzakhani at Portuguese festival 

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TEHRAN – The crew of the acclaimed short film “Retouch” paid tribute to their late fellow Iranian, math genius Maryam Mirzakhani, by dedicating an award the movie won at a Portuguese event on Sunday to her family.

Directed by Kaveh Mazaheri, the film received the audience award at the closing ceremony of the Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival held in Vila do Conde, the publicist of the film announced on Monday.

Adeleh Charaghi, who collaborated on the film as a set and costume designer, attended the ceremony, presenting the award on behalf her colleagues to the mathematician who died of breast cancer on Saturday.          

“Unfortunately, we were informed yesterday that our world has lost Maryam Mirzakhani, one of the great math geniuses,” the crew wrote in a statement.

“In a tribute to Mirzakhani, our group has decided to dedicate the award to her family,” the statement added.

“Retouch” has been screened at numerous international events over the past year, winning awards in some of them, including the 16th Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and the 23rd Palm Springs International ShortFest.

The passing of Mirzakhani, who was known as the queen of mathematics, came as a shock to officials and her friends.

President Hassan Rouhani posted a recent picture of Mirzakhani on Instagram and wrote, “The grievous passing of Maryam Mirzakhani, the eminent Iranian and world-renowned mathematician, is very much heartrending.”

Photo: This file photo shows Kaveh Mazaheri (R) directing his colleagues during a scene from “Retouch”. 

MMS/YAW

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Mining Holding Ownership Strengthens MSC’s Clout

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Iran’s flagship flat steel producer has taken control of one of the country’s largest mining investment companies and extended its reach in the industry.
By holding a 37% stake in Mines and Metals Development Investment Company, Mobarakeh Steel Company won three seats on the mining holding’s board of directors during the extraordinary general meeting held on Saturday.
According to MMDIC’s website, the local mining and metals group established in 1997 focuses on exploring, mining, processing and marketing commodities such as iron ore, pellet, copper, steel, coal and electricity. The holding is a stakeholder in a number of Iran’s largest commodity producers.
Tehran Stock Exchange-listed MMDIC’s market capitalization currently stands at 37.2 trillion rials ($986.58 million), TSE data showed.
MMDIC owns a 16.6% and 17.1% stake in Iran’s two largest iron ore producers Chadormalu and Golgohar companies, and 5.7% share in the primary copper producer National Iranian Copper Industries Company.
Its other stakes across the industry are in Gohar Zamin Iron Ore Company, Khorasan Steel Company, Arfa Iron and Steel Company, Amir Kabir Steel, Sabanour Mining and Industrial Development Company and Shahid Ghandi Corporation Complex. The names of a few banks also show up on MMDIC’s portfolio.
What this means for MSC, already a goliath in the industry, is that it increases its potential influence on price determination for the long-term contracts for iron ore and pellet, as well as on export and other policies.
Golgohar and Chadormalu are already planning to commence the export of some of their pellet output this year, but are waiting to receive a government exemption from a 15% export duty on iron ore pellet. Golgohar started its second 5 million tons per year pellet plant last November and now has a nameplate capacity of 10 million tons per year, S&P Global Platts reported. With MSC in charge, however, the plans could change.
MSC came into MMDIC’s ownership following the financial hardships of the founder and original stakeholder, the semi-governmental Steel Pensioners’ Fund for retired Iranian steelworkers. The pension fund sold a 16.1% stake valued at 7 trillion rials ($185.7 million) to MSC back in May.
MSC is also following plans of its own for boosting output, as it has turned to Iran Energy Exchange for procuring its electricity supply.
“Considering the significant price difference between offers by the private sector in IRENEX and the government, Mobarakeh Steel Company purchased 10 MWs of electricity from the exchange for the first time in the company’s history. This in turn led to a 36% drop in costs,” MSC’s raw material and energy procurement manager, Bashir Sadeqi, was quoted as saying by Securities and Exchange News Agency.
According to Sadeqi, the benefits of the new approach include flexibility in delivery time, 10% tax cut on purchases from IRENEX and the ability to circumvent middlemen and directly pay the supplier.
MSC posted a good performance in the last fiscal year (March 2016-17) as it boosted sales volumes by 18.21% to 6.2 million tons.
The sales total included 4.49 million tons of hot-rolled coil, 1.29 million tons of cold-rolled coil and 284,000 tons of coated products. MSC’s total nominal capacity is 10.3 million tons of finished and semi-finished products. The rise in sales volume combined with higher prices also more than tripled net profit to 17.82 trillion rials ($550.46 million).

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