Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Thursday that Tehran would destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if its nuclear infrastructure came under attack from the Jewish state.
Israel puts little stock in big power negotiations aimed at curbing Iran’s uranium enrichment — which Western nations suspect is a conduit to nuclear weapons capability — and has repeatedly hinted at pre-emptive war against its arch-enemy.
During a visit to Israel on Thursday, US President Barack Obama acknowledged its security concerns, saying: “America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear Iran.”
However, he also said big powers believed there was still time for a diplomatic solution.
Russia said Iran and six global powers made headway in expert-level talks this week to ease the 10-year-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but the risk of backsliding toward confrontation remained. Higher-level political talks between the powers and Iran are to resume in the Kazakh city of Almaty early next month.
Khamenei, in a televised speech marking the Iranian new year, said: “At times the officials of the Zionist regime [Israel] threaten to launch a military invasion, but they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”
The top Shiite Muslim cleric, Iran’s most powerful figure, dismissed any threat from Israel, describing it as “not big enough to stand out among the Iranian nation’s enemies.”
The standoff now turns on Iran’s enrichment of uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent, which the West sees as a big step toward processing the material for use in nuclear bombs.
Tehran says 20 percent enrichment will yield solely fuel for a medical research reactor, and that its nuclear quest is wholly peaceful.
“We have told you numerous times that we are not after nuclear weapons,” Khamenei said, addressing Washington in front of thousands of adoring faithful who had come to the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad to hear him speak.
He responded coolly to recent US suggestions of direct talks between the two countries, which have had no diplomatic relations since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and the ensuing hostage crisis involving US diplomats in Tehran.
“I am not optimistic about these talks. Why? Because our past experiences show that talks for the American officials do not mean for us to sit down and reach a logical solution ... What they mean by talks is that we sit down and talk until Iran accepts their viewpoint,” he said.
“I am not optimistic about their comments but I am not opposed either,” he said, adding that the solution to the issue was “close-by and easy” if only the US genuinely wanted to reach an agreement.
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of
The Philippine army chief yesterday expressed outrage over the fatal police shooting of four soldiers, including two officers, and demanded justice, as both sides provided contrasting accounts of the killings. Philippine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Ano, a retired military chief of staff who now oversees the national police, ordered that the police involved in Monday’s violence in Jolo in Sulu Province be disarmed and restricted for investigation. Police said the soldiers were killed in a “misencounter” with a group of police officers. The army said that the two officers and two enlisted men were on a mission against