Iran threatened on Wednesday to resume its enrichment of uranium -- a prerequisite for making nuclear weapons -- if the International Atomic Energy Agency passed an expected resolution rebuking it for not cooperating. \nIranian President Mohammad Khatami said his country no longer had a "moral commitment" to suspend uranium enrichment, though he added that it had not made a decision to restart such work. \n"If the draft resolution proposed by the European countries is approved by the IAEA, Iran will reject it," Khatami said in Tehran. "If Europe has no commitment toward Iran, then Iran will not have a commitment toward Europe." \nKhatami's statement deepened the rift between Iran and the atomic energy agency, a UN watchdog group, as its 35-member governing board was close to passing a toughly worded resolution deploring Tehran's lack of cooperation with its investigation of the country's nuclear program. \nThe US accused Iranian officials of trying to push board members into softening the criticism. \n"They're trying to intimidate the board and individual states," said Kenneth Brill, the US ambassador to the agency. "It really makes us question their claims that they have nothing to hide." \nThere had been expectations that the resolution would be proposed on Wednesday, but diplomats said they were at odds over some phrases in the introduction. They said they hoped to propose it yesterday morning. \nRepresentatives from Iran spent the day scrambling to delete a provision calling for the cancellation of Tehran's plans to build a heavy-water research reactor and to start operations at a uranium conversion plant. \nThe resolution, drafted by the UK, France and Germany, said those projects raised suspicions that Iran would not suspend uranium enrichment, as it promised last October in an agreement with the three countries. \nThe head of Iran's delegation here, Hossein Mousavian, insisted that the projects were outside the scope of the agreement. He also insisted that Iran had met all its obligations to the Europeans, as well as to the agency, which has been scrutinizing Iran's nuclear program for more than two years. \nThe resolution, Mousavian warned, would undermine relations between Iran and the agency, particularly among hard-line members of Iran's Parliament, some of whom have threatened that they will not ratify an agreement permitting unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities. \nIn Tehran on Wednesday, the Iranian foreign minister noted that the Parliament, which has been controlled by conservative opponents of the government since elections last February, might be more reluctant to cooperate by ratifying the agreement. \n"We have told the Europeans that the new Parliament does not think the same way as the previous Parliament, and that should be considered in their calculations," the foreign minister, Kamal Kharazai, was quoted as saying by the Islamic Republic News Agency. \nDespite their vitriolic tone, Iranian officials stopped short of darker threats, like refusing access to UN inspectors or withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, as North Korea did. Mousavian, in fact, said he saw no reason to "cut relations with the IAEA." \nThe future of ties between Iran and Europe, he suggested, was more problematic. "Internally, a lot of people cannot trust the promises of cooperation with the Europeans," Mousavian said. \nUnder the terms of the deal last October between Iran and the foreign ministers of Germany, the UK and France -- at a time when the US was urging a harder line on Iran -- the Europeans offered to sell nuclear technology to the Iranians if they agreed to stop enriching uranium. \nIran, while asserting its right to enrich uranium, said it would suspend the activity. \nA recent report by the agency cast doubt on Iran's claims. It said the Iranian government was continuing to make parts for centrifuges, the machines that enrich, or purify, uranium by spinning it. \nThe agency's director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei, said it was "premature to make a judgment" about whether Iran's program was military.
Offering Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines to the public in Singapore for the first time since Friday, several private clinics reported overwhelming demand for the Chinese-made shot, despite already available rival vaccines having far higher efficacy. Singapore has vaccinated almost half its 5.7 million population with at least one dose of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have shown efficacy rates of well over 90 percent against symptomatic disease in clinical trials, compared with Sinovac’s 51 percent. Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia said that more than 350 medical workers have caught COVID-19, despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been
When COVID-19 arrived in India, few places looked as vulnerable as Mumbai. However, a year on, South Asia’s most crowded city has surprised many by tackling a vicious second wave of the virus with considerable success. Gaurav Awasthi even traveled hundreds of kilometers from his home on the outskirts of Delhi to get his ailing wife a hospital bed there, paying an ambulance more than US$1,000 to drive 24 hours straight. “I cannot ever repay my debt to this city,” the 29-year-old said, recounting an ordeal that saw him spend five days fruitlessly searching for a bed across several cities, including Delhi.
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NEW APPROACH NEEDED? The royals, despite seeing themselves as above politics, are under tremendous pressure to urge parliament to reconvene, an expert said Malaysia’s royal leaders were to meet yesterday amid growing public anger over the Malaysian government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic during a state of emergency that has left democracy suspended for a year. The meeting, to be chaired by Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at 2:30pm, comes as daily COVID-19 infections averaged about 5,800 in the past seven days, nearly double than when Malaysia declared emergency rule in January. “The issue now is whether the emergency, which is set to end Aug. 1, should be continued,” Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the head of the ruling United Malays National Organization’s youth wing,