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UN slaps fourth set of sanctions on Iran

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – World powers have slapped new military and financial sanctions on Iran aiming to rein in its suspect nuclear program, but stressed that the door remains open for talks.


A US-drafted resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 12 votes in favor in the 15-member Security Council, with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting against.

UN Security Council members vote on broader military and financial sanctions on Iran at the UN headquarters in New York. AFP photo

Though swiftly hailed by co-sponsors Britain, France and the United States, the move drew an immediate, scornful reaction from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


“These resolutions are not worth a dime for the Iranian nation,” said Ahmadinejad, who earlier threatened to suspend negotiations with six major powers if the sanctions were imposed.


He compared the world powers’ resolutions to “a used hanky which should be thrown in the dust bin.”


US President Barack Obama said Iran now faces the “toughest-ever” sanctions regime, sending “an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.”


But Obama, who has offered to resume dialogue with Tehran, stressed the sanctions did not spell an end to diplomatic overtures, urging Iran to “take a different and better path.”


The Iranian president was due in China for a visit likely marred by unusually strong criticism of Beijing by Iran’s atomic chief for the Asian giant’s support of the measure.


Despite the backing of Russia and China, it was one of the least supported of the four Iran sanctions resolutions adopted at the United Nations. It expands an arms embargo and bars the country from sensitive activities such as uranium mining.


The resolution also authorizes states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items for Iran and adds 40 entities to a list of people and groups subject to travel restrictions and financial sanctions.


Tehran maintains its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful civilian purposes, while the Western nations have charged that Iran is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons.


Israel welcomed the new sanctions against the Jewish state’s arch-foe, but said more was needed to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, including “strong action” from individual countries.


The foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany stressed that their dual-track approach — pressure through sanctions alongside negotiations — remained in effect.


Western powers had initially pushed for crippling sanctions that would have notably targeted Iran’s oil industry but months of hard-nosed bargaining with Beijing and Moscow watered down the resolution to protect their substantial energy and economic interests in Iran.


Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said the resolution aimed to coax Iran back to the negotiating table and to fulfill its obligations as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


“Sanctions can never fundamentally resolve,” he said, stressing the measures could be suspended or even lifted if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment and reprocessing.


Russia said a package of economic and energy incentives offered by six major powers to Iran in exchange for halting uranium enrichment remained on the table.


The sanctions “should not do undue damage” to the Iranian economy and the Iranian people, stressed Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin.


Japan said it supported the fresh sanctions but still hoped for a diplomatic solution.


“It becomes important that the international community firmly implements the UN Security Council resolution and works towards a peaceful and diplomatic solution for the nuclear issue and demands Iran make a prudent decision,” Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said in a statement.


EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton’s office said the resolution “keeps the door open for continued engagement” between world powers and Iran.


“Sanctions are not the endgame or the final solution,” the EU statement said. “We hope that today’s decision will bring Iran to the negotiating table.”


The resolution was approved despite efforts by Brazil and Turkey to head off the measures and promote a nuclear fuel swap deal they reached with Tehran last month, which had been coolly received by the six major powers.


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva later slammed the new sanctions as a “Pyrrhic victory” that comes with a massive burden to the victors and said the move “weakened the UN Security Council.”


Lebanon had earlier indicated it could not support the resolution due to domestic political considerations, a reference to the presence of the powerful, Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the Lebanese government.

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Source: SGGP

Pakistan slaps travel ban on defence minister

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2009 at 2:01 pm

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan has barred the defence minister from travelling abroad as the fallout Friday from a court ruling reviving graft cases against a raft of top politicians threatened the government’s stability.


The country’s top anti-corruption body has called for travel bans on more than 250 people since the Supreme Court Wednesday annulled a decree protecting politicians including President Asif Ali Zardari from old graft charges.








Pakistan political ctivists celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision on the National Reconciliation Ordinance in Karachi on December 17. (AFP photo)

The court ruling has rattled the US-backed government, with the opposition demanding the swift resignation of Zardari and implicated ministers.


Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told local television late Thursday he had been due to go on an official visit to China but that his name had been put on an “exit control list” restricting travel.


Mukhtar told private Geo television station he had been due to spend three days in China to discuss the delivery of a frigate, but when his staff reached the airport they were told the delegation would have to go without him.


“I was informed that my name is on the exit list… federal investigation authorities officials have said that I cannot leave the country,” he said.


“It was in connection with a corruption case. But there is no corruption case against me — it is only an enquiry which is pending against me for the past 12 years. I will strongly defend myself in the court.”


The National Accountability Bureau said it had instructed the interior ministry to put the names of 253 people on the exit control list.


“They include politicians, bureaucrats, ex-military officers and some diplomats… Arrest warrants issued against some are also revived and properties of accused frozen again,” said NAB’s media officer Naveed Sattar.


Zaradri’s name was removed because of his presidential immunity, but a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity that Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s name was also on the list.


Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, voiced hope the amnesty ruling would not destabilise the country, which is under US pressure to do more to fight Islamist militants on the border with Afghanistan.


“Everybody in Pakistan, including our top military leadership, has made it clear that the military should focus on defending the country’s frontiers and elected government should run the government in accordance with the constitution and courts should adjudicate criminal matters in accordance with the law,” he told CNN.


“I hope everybody will play their constitutional role and (the) country will not go down the road of coups that has been disastrous for our country in the past,” said Haqqani, who is himself implicated by Wednesday’s ruling.


Pakistan is ranked the 40th most corrupt country out of 180 monitored by global watchdog Transparency International, and many governments have fallen or been ousted by the military over accusations of graft.


The amnesty — called the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) — was passed in October 2007 by then-president Pervez Musharraf, who was under pressure to hold elections and end about eight years of military rule.


It quashed charges against a number of politicians including Zardari and his wife and ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto — who was assassinated two months later — to allow them to stand for office.


Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) went on to win elections in 2008, restoring civilian rule, but his relations with the powerful military are strained and his public approval rating at rock-bottom.


Zardari is immune from prosecution while in office, but his eligibility for the presidency could be challenged as graft cases were pending against him when the NRO was adopted, raising questions about his suitability for the post.


Political analyst Talat Masood said the government must act swiftly to restore confidence by forcing out implicated ministers.


“If it is prolonged it’s likely to affect governance, it is likely to affect the overall security situation, but if the transition is quick, these ill-effects could be reduced,” he told AFP.


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China slaps penalties on US, Russian steel

In World on December 11, 2009 at 4:16 am

China said Thursday it will impose penalties on steel imported from the United States and Russia, claiming the countries were allowing it to be sold at a cut price.


The preliminary ruling requires importers of grain-oriented electrical steel, which is widely used in the power industry, to pay deposits from Friday, the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.


“The domestic grain-oriented electrical steel industry suffered material damages” due to the dumping, the statement said following an investigation.


Dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in another market at less than normal value.


The ruling is the latest in a series of disputes between China and the United States, which have heightened trade tensions between the economic giants.










Companies will have to pay a deposit based on the difference — up to 25 percent — between the normal value of the steel and the cut price, the ministry said.


China also will charge for the first time an anti-subsidy deposit after the probe found US companies received government subsidies on grain-oriented electrical steel.


The deposits will be repaid to the importers if the preliminary ruling is overturned, according to Chinese rules.


Simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing boiled over in September when the Obama administration announced it would slap duties on Chinese-made tyres to protect US producers.


Since then, the world’s number one and three economies have traded a series of accusations of unfair trade practices.


In one of its retaliatory moves, Beijing lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organization and launched a probe into possible unfair trade practices involving imports of US car products and chicken meat.


 


 


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

China slaps penalties on US, Russian steel

In World on December 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm

China said Thursday it will impose penalties on steel imported from the United States and Russia, claiming the countries were allowing it to be sold at a cut price.


The preliminary ruling requires importers of grain-oriented electrical steel, which is widely used in the power industry, to pay deposits from Friday, the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.


“The domestic grain-oriented electrical steel industry suffered material damages” due to the dumping, the statement said following an investigation.


Dumping occurs when a foreign company sells a product in another market at less than normal value.


The ruling is the latest in a series of disputes between China and the United States, which have heightened trade tensions between the economic giants.








A port worker signals for an overhead crane operator to hoist a huge coil of steel at a port in New Jersey.

Companies will have to pay a deposit based on the difference — up to 25 percent — between the normal value of the steel and the cut price, the ministry said.


China also will charge for the first time an anti-subsidy deposit after the probe found US companies received government subsidies on grain-oriented electrical steel.


The deposits will be repaid to the importers if the preliminary ruling is overturned, according to Chinese rules.


Simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing boiled over in September when the Obama administration announced it would slap duties on Chinese-made tyres to protect US producers.


Since then, the world’s number one and three economies have traded a series of accusations of unfair trade practices.


In one of its retaliatory moves, Beijing lodged a complaint at the World Trade Organization and launched a probe into possible unfair trade practices involving imports of US car products and chicken meat.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share