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Rouhani vows to expand missile programme against US sanctions

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday ordered to proceed the country’s missile programme “with high speed and seriously” and expand Iran’s missile capabilities, in response to the U.S. considered sanctions, state media reported.

Mr. Rouhani’s remarks followed the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent announcement that it was considering sanctions against a number of Iranian and international individuals and agencies for their alleged involvement in developing Iran’s ballistic missile programme, official IRNA news agency reported.

In a letter to the Defence Minister, Mr. Rouhani said “it is necessary to follow, more seriously and with high speed, the production of different kinds of missiles within the framework of the defensive policies”.

The Defence Ministry was obliged to expand the missile capabilities of Iran, in case the U.S. insists on its “false and interfering measures”, Mr. Rouhani said.

During the past nuclear talks, Iran emphasized that it will never negotiate over its deterrent power, including its missile programme, and will never accept any restrictions in this regard.

The new U.S. move to add individuals and companies to the sanction list was a response to Iran’s recent test of a ballistic missile.

In October, Iran announced the tests of long—range Emad missile which could be guided and controlled until hitting the target with high precision.

A UN experts’ report in December said that Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 1929 by test—firing the Emad missile which is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

The UN report said the Emad ballistic missile has a range of “no less than 1,000 km with a payload of at least 1,000 kg”.

Under Resolution 1929, Iran was prohibited from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warhead

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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