Plane crashes in central Iran; 65 confirmed dead

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February 18, 2018

TEHRAN — A plane heading from Tehran to Yasouj, a city in the southwestern province of Kohgiluyeh-Boyerahmad, crashed into the mountain on Sunday morning, leaving 65 dead.

The ATR aircraft which departed at about 8 a.m. local time was first disappeared from radar and reportedly crashed into a mountainous region near Semirom town, Isfahan province, due to the bad weather conditions.

While there were speculation that the plane might have not crashed and landed in a remote area somewhere, local media reported that the plane has been spotted.

According to Borna news agency, while snowstorm is sweeping the area where the crash has occurred, remains of the plane are spotted. The report was then denied by other news agencies.

Because of the foggy weather and inaccessibility of the mountainous areas, emergency medical services have not succeeded to reach the area yet. However, it is confirmed that all 59 passengers as well as the 6 crew members, including two flight attendants, two pilots and two members of security forces have passed away.

One of the passengers is said to miss the flight.

Currently dozens of Red Crescents Society rescue and relief forces, as well as police and other officials are dispatched to the area.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and some other high ranking officials and celebrities have extended their condolences for the tragic incident.

Aged aircraft fleet

The carrier was Aseman Airlines, a semi-private firm, which according to Flight Radar 24 has a fleet of 29 aircrafts including 6 ATR aircrafts.

Over the 17th International Conference on Traffic and Transportation Engineering held here on Sunday, concurrent with the plane crash, Transport and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi regretted the fact that some 200 aircrafts in Iran age above 20 years.

Iran’s air transport fleet requires some 500 aircrafts, Akhoundi said, stating, the problem is not only with air transport fleet, the road conditions as well as the rail transportation sector are facing the same issue.

He further highlighted that in order to renovate the aged aircraft fleet some $50 billion must be allocated to the sector.



Source :  Tehran Times

JICA aims to improve energy efficiency, mitigate air pollution in Iran

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February 18, 2018

TEHRAN — Japan International Cooperation Agency has begun surveys as well as a pilot project aiming to both improve energy efficiency and mitigate air pollution in Iran in association with the Japanese private sector.

The project titled “Verification Survey with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technologies for Improving the Output of Existing Gas Turbine with Inlet Air Cooling System on Islamic Republic of Iran”
was officially initiated over a ceremony held at Thermal Power Plants Holding Company (TPPH) with officials from Ikeuchi [the Japanese enterprise in charge of implementing the pilot project in Iran] in Tehran on Wednesday.

The project is in the framework of JICA’s support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The rate of electrical energy demand is expected to be increased by 6.5 percent annually and additional 25.6GW electrical energy is required until 2020. Considering a future economic development that can lead to improvement in living standards, it is essential to reinforce power generation capacity.

Installation of new gas turbine combined cycle power plant construction plan, which can increase in production of natural gas, has been delayed due to labor shortage and economic slump caused by foreign currency shortage. Additionally, the Health Ministry announced that, due to air pollution, up to 4,450 Tehran residents died last year and number of patient increased roughly by 30 percent. Under such circumstances, in order to decrease negative environmental impacts power plants must be equipped with modern facilities.

Furthermore, in the Islamic Republic of Iran roughly 20 percent of power generation source is oil, without exhaust gas treatment facility equipped in the city, which results in discharge of sulfur oxide and dust causing severe air pollution.

This survey aims to verify effectiveness of the inlet air cooling system for improving the output of existing gas turbine. The survey also aims to explore ways to disseminate the product in Islamic Republic of Iran.

The system use hydraulic nozzles (LYOHM Nozzles) with atomization performance in the world’s highest level. It automatically sprays appropriate volume of water as a function of outside air temperature and humidity.

If additional products such as gas turbine protection are required due to installing the system, Thermal Power Plants Holding Company is responsible for providing and installing these products. In this process, JICA Survey Team will provide Thermal Power Plants Holding Company advice on how to minimize the negative impacts on existing equipment.

“Iran now faces the drastic increase of the energy demand. In order to fulfill the demand of economic development and ensure the quality of living standards of the population, it is essential to reinforce power generation capacity,” Chief Representative, JICA Iran Office Yukiharu Kobayashi said on Wednesday.

Furthermore, in the Islamic Republic of Iran roughly 20 percent of power generation source is fuel oil, without exhaust gas treatment facility equipped in the city, discharge sulfur oxide and dust caused severe air pollution, Kobayashi noted.

He went on to say that considering this situation, Government and executive agencies, such as TPPH is required to develop and implement the proper policies and measures for balanced energy demand and supply and increase of the efficiency of power generation in Iran.

For the achievement to this purpose, Japanese enterprises’ highly developed technological resources can assist this country, he highlighted.

Ikeuchi [the Japanese enterprise in charge implementing the pilot project in Iran] has an outstanding advantage in fog technology which plays a significant role in quality improvements of electronic device manufacturing and printing. Fog serves to improve the global environment, from combating global warming, to dust pollution control contributes to our industries, and to mankind.

I expect TPPH to introduce this effective technology in the framework of this cooperation firstly, and then, enhance to spread it to the territory in Iran in the future, Kobayashi concluded.

Electricity is important for life

Ikeuchi General Manager for Cooling Division Nobuaki Umeda, for his part, explained about the importance of electricity saying “In 2011, we had a huge earthquake, many of Japanese passed away. In addition, all nuclear power plants were shut down. Therefore, we realized that electricity is Important for the life throughout Japan.”

“We had installed our spray nozzle system in most of gas turbines in Japan to decrease the temperature of inlet air, therefore we could play a part to increase the power output from the gas turbine,” Umeda said.

Improving power generation efficiency ‘essential’

Gholamerza Mehrdad, General Manager of Generation Technical Support Thermal Power Plants Holding Company, also said that energy demand in Iran is increasing and therefore it is very essential to take some measures to increase the efficiency of power generation.

“We believe the technology of Ikeuchi in manufacturing the nozzles for the cooling system can be very helpful and hope in the future, other power plants can buy the technology from the Japanese Company after receiving the good result from this study as a pilot project,” he pointed.



Source :  Tehran Times

Kerry: It is ‘absolutely critical’ to make sure nuclear deal will survive

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February 18, 2018

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that it is “absolutely critical” to make sure that the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will survive.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been making the harshest attacks on the international agreement. In a statement on January 12, Trump gave Europeans only 120 days to agree to an overhaul of the nuclear agreement and said if the text of the deal is not revised he would unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from it.

However, Kerry, one of the leading negotiators on the deal, told the Munich Security Conference that “this is untenable. It is not good diplomacy.”

“I believe it is absolutely critical for Europe, for the world, to make sure we hold on to this agreement,” Kerry noted According to AP.

Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the U.S., UK, France, Russia, and China – Germany and the European Union struck the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015. Immediately after the forging of the nuclear agreement, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution turning the deal into an international law.


Source :  Tehran Times

Zarif: Iran favors ‘strong region’ over ‘strong man’

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February 18, 2018

MUNICH – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Iran favors a “strong region” as opposed to a “strong man in the region”.

“We believe in, and have proposed, creating what we call a ‘strong region’ as opposed to a ‘strong man in the region’,” Zarif said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference (MSC).

He noted, “In a quest to create our ‘strong region’, we need to be realistic and accept our differences.”

Here’s the full transcript of the foreign minister’s speech:

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very happy to be able to make it to this final day of the Munich Security Conference, having just arrived from a historic state visit of President Rouhani to India.

Last year, I repeated before this forum Iran’s proposal for a security arrangement in the Persian Gulf, founded on dialogue, common principles and confidence building measures. Some of our neighbors used their opportunity here last year to level accusations against Iran. Some have, and others will, do the same this year. You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning, which does not even deserve the dignity of a response. So let’s move to more serious issues.

I’m happy that in contrast to the approach of some, the UN Secretary General chose to endorse the forward-looking approach that I outlined here last year. I am here to expand on that, and to tell you that unless there is a collective effort to bring inclusive peace and security to the Persian Gulf region, we will be engulfed in turmoil and potentially far worse for generations to come. And our turmoil, in this interconnected world, is everyone’s turmoil, as evidenced by events in both our region and in the west since the turn of this century.

Today, the territorial defeat of ISIS has heralded the return of some sense of stability to the territory it once occupied. But the defeat of one of the world’s most evil organizations does not mean that the threat of extremism has been removed from the region and beyond. The root causes – particularly its ideology of hate and exclusion – continue and may erupt somewhere else.

For too long, military powers have had multiple strategies to win wars. And for too long, they have ignored any strategy to win the peace. For too long, major powers and their regional allies have made the wrong choices in our region and then have blamed others, particularly Iran, for the consequences of their own short-sighted and trigger-happy strategic blunders:

From supporting Saddam Hussein’s invasion of my country in 1980 to aiding and abetting his use of chemical weapons; from the wars to evict him from Kuwait and then to remove him altogether; from first supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to waging a war to remove them from Afghanistan; from supporting the same brand of extremist terrorists bringing ruin to Syria to dangerously occupying parts of Syria under the guise of fighting the groups they have armed and financed; from Israel’s invasion and subsequent aggressions on Lebanon and its illegal occupation of Palestine to its routine incursions into Syrian airspace; and from the bombing of Yemen with western supplied planes. What have these actions brought the world?

The U.S. and its local clients in our region are suffering from the natural consequences of their own wrong choices. But they use this and other fora to revive the hysteria on Iran’s foreign policy and obscure its reality. But did Iran force them to make all those wrong choices as some of them ridiculously claim? Are we to blame because we were on the right side of history, fighting Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, Nusrah and the like, while the U.S. and company were financing, arming and supporting them?

Distinguished participants,

As I said before this forum last year, Iran believes that our Persian Gulf region requires a fresh regional security architecture. We believe in, and have proposed, creating what we call a “strong region” as opposed to a “strong man in the region.” A strong region where small and large nations—even those with historical rivalries—contribute to stability.

This is simply recognizing the need to respect the interests of all stakeholders, which by its very nature will lead to stability, while hic tendencies by any regional – or global — power will, by its very nature, lead to insecurity. The arms race in our region—and no country represented in this forum is completely innocent in perpetuating it—is an example of the destructive and unnecessary rivalry that has made our neighborhood unsafe and insecure.

In a quest to create our “strong region”, we need to be realistic and accept our differences. We need to move from collective security and alliance formations to inclusive concepts such as security networking which can address issues that range from divergence of interests to power and size disparities. Security networking is a non-zero-sum approach that accepts that security is indivisible, as opposed to alliances and blocks, which are fundamentally based on the defunct zero-sum approach of gaining security at the expense of the insecurity of others.

The nuclear deal was an example of such non-zero-sum thinking. Recognizing differences but also recognizing a common goal, and maintaining respect for the interests of all parties guided the difficult negotiations that led to the successful conclusion of the JCPOA. And that may be why those who see everything in terms of one-sided profiteering are so intrinsically opposed to it.

Immediately after the conclusion of JCPOA, Iran sought to use the same approach for the Persian Gulf and proposed to create a ‘Regional Dialogue Forum’. That proposal fell on deaf ears, but is still on the table. It is the only way out. It could become, if our neighbors join us, a forum that will be used as an instrument for helping organize and advance dialogue at all formal and informal levels in our region, and while encouraging inter-governmental and formal dialogue, it can also promote dialogue between scholars and thinkers.

Distinguished participants,

The parameters of Iran’s proposed regional architecture are simple but effective: rather than trying to ignore conflicts of interests, it will accept differences. Being premised on inclusivity, it can act as a firewall to prevent the emergence of an oligarchy among big states, and importantly, it allows smaller states to participate and have their interests protected.

Like the Helsinki process, the future security architecture in the Persian Gulf should be based on the “ticket principles” and “CBM baskets”. All countries around this strategic yet volatile waterway should be able to enter by committing to a series of common standards enshrined in the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity; inviolability of borders; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states.

We also recognize that we need confidence-building measures in the Persian Gulf: from joint military visits to pre-notification of military exercises; and from transparency measures in armament procurements to reducing military expenditures; all of which could eventually lead to a regional non-aggression pact. We can begin with easier to implement issues such as the promotion of tourism, joint investments, or even joint task forces on issues ranging from nuclear safety to pollution to disaster management.

At a time when we are dangerously close to escalating conflicts that will affect our children and grandchildren, I encourage my counterparts in the Persian Gulf to join Iran in making these proposals a reality.



Source :  Tehran Times

Leader: Iran against WMDs but promotes defense power

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February 18, 2018

TEHRAN – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that Iran considers nuclear bomb and other weapons of mass destruction as religiously banned, but does anything necessary to increase its defense capability.

“Of course we consider atomic bomb and weapons of mass destruction as haram but we strongly seek (to build) whatever necessary (to promote our defense power,” the Leader remarked.

“Without a moment of hesitation, the country should move towards anything necessary for defense even if the whole world opposes,” he said during a meeting a large number of group from East Azerbaijan.

He strongly criticized the Westerns who threaten the human being by their sophisticated weapons but are against Iran’s defensive missile power.

“How this issue [Iran’s missile power] is related to you? You want to deprive the Iranian nation of missile and defense capabilities to bully them,” the Leader noted.

Elsewhere, the Leader attached great importance to economic priorities, saying that more efforts should be done in line with resistance economy.

He noted that relying on the people and domestic capacities are the solution to economic problems.

“We saw the result of relying on foreigners in the issue of Barjam [the Persian name for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. We trusted them in the nuclear talks but did not gain benefits. However, the officials deal with the issue very well and the foreign minister [Mohammad Javad Zarif] should be thanked for his behavior towards the malignancy of the U.S. and ambivalent behavior of Europeans,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

“Some of these behavioral points were publicized, some weren’t; but, I am informed. Righteous and strong attitudes were shown. Yes, this the correct method: they should react. National dignity must be manifested,” quoted the Leader as saying.

Commenting on massive turnout in the February 11 rallies to mark the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei called the event a “miracle”.

“The 22nd of the month of Bahman [on the Persian calendar] was actually different this year,” Press TV quoted him as saying.

He added, “After 39 years, this massive popular movement looks like a miracle. It does not exist anywhere in the world that after four decades, people themselves come to the scene, fill the streets, chant slogans, show their presence and defend their revolution.”

Ayatollah Khamenei said that criticisms against the government, the Judiciary and the Leadership do not run contrary to defending the Islamic system and revolution.

The Leader also said “move toward aristocracy” and giving up to “wealthy class instead of paying attention of poor classes” are a retreat from the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.

He added people should monitor the “our behavior as responsible officials” with great sensitiivy.



Source :  Tehran Times