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Have credible evidence of Iran’s role in missile attack: Saudi envoy

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Saud Mohammed Al-Sati

Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Al-Sati has said that his country has “credible evidence” that Iran was behind the missile attack on Saudi capital Riyadh by Yemen-based Houthi rebels earlier this month even as Tehran has denied any role in this.

“We have credible evidence which proves that Iran is behind manufacturing of missiles used by terror groups and smuggling them into Yemen,” Al-Sati told IANS in an exclusive interview.

“Measures have been taken to address vulnerabilities in the current inspection procedures that led to the supply of weapons and missiles to Houthi militias,” he stated.

The Houthi rebels fired a long-range missile at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on the night of November 4, according to Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.

Saudi Arabia immediately blamed the Houthis’ allies, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah and regional rival Iran.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, experts in military technology, after thorough examination of the debris, have confirmed the role of Iran in manufacturing missiles and smuggling these to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the Gulf kingdom.

Yemen has been in a state of political crisis since 2011 ending with the Houthis taking over the capital Sanaa and then, after ousting President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in a coup d’etat, declaring control over the country. This resulted in the Saudi-led Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen making a military intervention to prevent the collapse of Hadi’s government.

“The Houthi terrorist groups backed, funded and armed by Iran are continuing their crimes against the people of Yemen and its legitimate institutions,” Al-Sati said.

“In fact, the UNSC 2216 resolution had asked them to refrain from any provocation or threats to neighboring states, including acquiring surface-to-surface missiles, and stockpiling weapons in any border territory of a neighboring states; and to end the recruitment and use of children in their violent activities. None of this has stopped.”

Asked how the international community has reacted to the latest development, the Ambassador said that “Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns through its proxies (Houthis and Hezbollah) and expect us not to take steps to counteract the threat under the UN article 51” and added that many countries, including India, have condemned the attack.

India, in statement, while “strongly condemning” the attack, expressed deep concern “at any escalation of violence that threatens the safety and security of innocent people”. “We also reiterate our commitment to fight against all forms of terrorism and violence,” the Indian External Affairs Ministry statement said.

As for the escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Al-Sati said that Saudi Arabia has shown “utmost concern” for this.

“We have been sending aid to all Yemeni provinces, including areas controlled by the Houthi rebels, through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre’s programmes,” he said.

“Overall, the kingdom has committed to provide more than $8.2 billion in humanitarian and developmental assistance to Yemen since April 2015. Despite hostilities, the Saudi led Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen has not interrupted the entry and exit of humanitarian supplies and crews to Yemen.”

Though the coalition ordered all transport in and out of Yemen to prevent arms smuggling, the Saudi mission in the UN said on Monday that the Aden, Mocha and Mukalla ports were resuming operations as also Aden and Seyoun airports so that humanitarian food aid can come in for the affected civilian population.

With over three million expatriate Indians living in Saudi Arabia, the Ambassador said that his country appreciated India’s concern, but added: “As of now, we do not see any possible impact on the Indians working in our country due to these acts of terror perpetrated by Iran’s proxies. It is our duty to protect everyone within our borders including the Indians living there.”

Asked what role he expected the UN to play in the current scenario, he said that the the UN Security Council and its sanctions committee should take all necessary legal measures to hold Iran accountable for supplying the Houthi militias that it commands with missiles as it is a blatant violation of the UNSC Resolution 2216,. which prohibits nations from arming militias.

“This aggression also signals to the fact that the threat of such terrorist groups has become increasingly cross border and cross regional, which requires a united stand from the international community to fight and eradicate this threat caused by the Houthi terrorist group and its supporter,” Al-Sati said.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at [email protected])

Middle East

Targeted killing of Iran’s Soleimani unlawful: UN report

According to the report, the strike near the Baghdad airport on January 3 was in violation of the UN Charter with insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack.

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Soleimani

Geneva, July 10 : Without an actual imminent threat to life, the targeted killing of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike earlier this year was unlawful, according to a latest UN report.

Presenting the report to the UN Human Rights Council Thursday on the use of force under drones technology, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the US action constituted an arbitrary killing, reports Xinhua news agency.

“In light of the evidence that the US has provided to date, the targeting of General Soleimani, and the deaths of those accompanying him, constitute an arbitrary killing,” Callamard said in her report.

According to the report, the strike near the Baghdad airport on January 3 was in violation of the UN Charter with insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack.

No evidence has been provided that General Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, specifically was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified, the report said.

Also no evidence has been provided that a drone strike in a third country was necessary or that the harm caused to that country was proportionate to the harm allegedly averted, the report added.

Besides Soleimani, the US airstrike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq”s Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces.

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Middle East

More advanced equipment to replace damaged part of Iran n-site

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, July 6 : A new and more advanced structure will be built at Iran”s Natanz nuclear facility to replace the one damaged in a recent fire “incident”, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday.

“Necessary arrangements have been made to rebuild the damaged shed at Shahid Ahmadi Roshan (Natanz) nuclear facility and a bigger shed with more advanced equipment is to replace it,” the spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

More centrifuge machines were supposed to be produced at the damaged shed, Kamalvandi said, adding that parts of measurement and precision tools in the shed were destroyed and damaged in the “incident”, reports Xinhua news agency

The “incident” has not caused hindrance in Iran”s enrichment work, although it may slow down development and manufacture of advanced machines in the medium term, he said.

“We would make up for this slowdown through round-the-clock work and diligent efforts of our colleagues at the organization.”

On July 2, Iran announced that the fire at the Natanz nuclear facility caused no damage to the establishment, but it affected one of the structures for storing stock items.

The next day, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) saidthat the country”s experts had determined the main cause of “incident” and would announce it at an “appropriate time”.

Natanz, located some 250 km south of Tehran, includes underground facilities buried under some 25 feet of concrete, which offers protection from airstrikes.

The facility is a Fuel Enrichment Plant covering 100,000 square meters.

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Disaster

Iraq confirms 2,312 new Covid-19 cases; 102 more deaths

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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Saudi Arabia Coronavirus Covid 19

Baghdad, July 4 : Iraqi Health Ministry on Friday confirmed 2,312 new Covid-19 cases, as the total number of infections climbed to 56,020.

The ministry also confirmed 102 more deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 2,262 in the country, Xinhua reported.

It also said that 1,688 people recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries from the disease to 29,600.

The new cases were recorded after 12,176 testing kits were used across the country during the past 24 hours, and a total of 579,861 tests have been carried out since the outbreak of the disease, according to the ministry”s statement.

The ministry frequently attributed the recent increase of COVID-19 infections to the lack of compliance of the citizens to the health instructions, as well as to the increase in the testing capacity due to the increase of labs in Baghdad and the other Iraqi provinces.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Iraq has been taking measures to contain the pandemic.

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