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‘Iran nuclear deal sealed yet not a time to celebrate’


Beijing: The Tehran nuclear deal has finally been sealed, yet this is “not a time to celebrate as Iran and the international community should get ready for even tougher tasks to ensure the hard-earned agreement will not die halfway”, China’s official news agency Xinhua has said.

A commentary “Tougher work needs to be done to ensure Iran nuclear deal not half-baked” which ran on Wednesday, a day after the Iran nuclear deal took place, said: “After more than a decade of on-and-off talks, a long-anticipated Iranian nuclear deal has finally come into shape.”

“Yet this is not a time to celebrate as Iran and the international community should get ready for even tougher tasks to ensure the hard-earned agreement will not die halfway,” said the commentary by Xinhua Writer Liu Chang.

It said that Tuesday’s comprehensive deal has demonstrated a strong political will and flexibility of all negotiating parties — Iran on the one hand and the group comprising Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany on the other.

“If the deal could be effectively and loyally implemented, it could go down into the human history as an exceptionally successful example of solving one of the world’s thorniest issues by peaceful and diplomatic means,” it added.

Secretary of State John Kerry after a news conference on Iran nuclear talks in Vienna.
Secretary of State John Kerry after a news conference on Iran nuclear talks in Vienna.

The commentary noted that the international community should stay “sober-minded as the road leading up to an out-and-out settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue is no less challenging than the strenuous negotiating process”.

The first test is whether US President Barack Obama can sell it to a sceptical and uncooperative Republican-controlled Congress when his presidency is already in the countdown and a new cycle of partisan politicking has been well under way.

“One of the key reasons that could motivate the US government to backtrack on the nuclear deal in the future is Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel.”

The commentary went on to say that “what is more vexatious is that Israel, which regards Iran as its arch-foe in the Middle East, does not just curse the deal all the time, but is likely to use every opportunity to sabotage it”.

“However, Israel has to understand that no deal could be perfect. It also has to know that an Iranian nuclear program that operates under verifiable international scrutiny is far better for Israel’s national interests than leaving Tehran’s nuclear activities unregulated or, like what it has suggested, simply resorting to military options to neutralize Iran’s nuclear abilities.”

Xinhua said that Iran also has a lot of “heavy-lifting and political balance to do”.

“With the economic and trade sanctions poised to be removed under the deal, President Hassan Rouhani and his government could begin to rebuild the country’s depressed economy.

“But in Tehran, hardliners are not that easy to be convinced as the Islamic Republic has deep distrust toward Western powers, especially the United States, after decades of confrontation and mutual hostility.”

The commentary said that to help make sure that Iran follows through on the deal, members of the international community, particularly the US and its Western allies, “should make immediate efforts to eliminate suspicion and mistrust toward the country, with the first priority to lay the ground for easing sanctions. Of course, Tehran should also keep its words regarding the accord”.


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Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Hold Meeting To Counter Trafficking of Opiate

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts.

An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province. VOA

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have pledged to increase cooperation and information-sharing for effectively combating the trafficking of Afghan opiates.

War-shattered Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium, though the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime noted in its latest survey the opium cultivation decreased by 20 percent in 2018 due to a severe drought and reduced prices.

The illegal opiates are largely smuggled to international markets through Pakistan and Iran.

Need for more initiatives 

Afghan, Pakistan and Iranian counternarcotics officials concluded their two-day UNODC-facilitated interaction Wednesday in Islamabad, where delegates underscored the need for more efforts against the massive flow of illicit drugs.

Participants at the “Triangular Initiative” meeting called for timely sharing of information and conducting simultaneously interdiction operations along their shared largely porous borders.

In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

The forum was established in 2007 with a mission to promote regional cooperation to reduce the poppy cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of drugs in the region and beyond.

Officials acknowledged that despite Afghanistan’s political tensions with Pakistan and Iran anti-drugs cooperation largely continues.

Renewed attitude 

Cesar Guedes, UNODC representative in Pakistan, noted the three countries attended the Islamabad meeting with “a revived attitude and role”, raising prospects for more effective counternarcotics efforts in 2019.

“More needs to be done because the level of [Afghan opium] production has also increased. They need really to coordinate closer in their joint efforts,” he told VOA

Guedes also called for increased international assistance, saying Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran alone cannot curb the menace of drugs.

FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

“This has to be done in the framework of shared responsibility. All the countries, producers, consumers and transit need to join the effort,” he said.

Despite many challenges facing the government, the head of the Afghan delegation said authorities have taken significant steps to eradicate drug trafficking.

US assistance 
Director General for Policy Planing at the Afghan Ministry of Narcotics, Mohammad Osman Frotan, said 89 percent of poppy cultivation this year has taken place in the Afghan provinces most hit by insurgent activities. He said counternarcotics authorities during 2018 have seized more than 433 tons of different types of drugs, and arrested and prosecuted almost 4,000 suspects.

Also Read: Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts. But the effort has failed to stop opium production, which increased to record highs and stood at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017. Critics blamed insecurity, rampant corruption and patronage by influential Afghans for the unprecedented growth. (VOA)