Gov’t committed to election pledges
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday his government will stand by the pledges made during his election campaign.
“Government considers itself duty-bound to honor the votes of the people and is loyal to the promises of the election campaign,” Rouhani told members of his cabinet and governors general.
He underlined full and timely implementation of main projects approved during the provincial tours.
The main priority of the government this year, he said, is to bring about economic prosperity and get rid of inflationary recession, whose figure is unprecedented in Iran’s history.
He added the government encourages investment and the entrepreneurs in the industry sector to help boost national production.
He regretted the negative growth registered in the national economy in the past two years, citing mismanagement under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
He referred to the environment as the main life support system of the nation and said Orumieh Lake is considered an environment disaster and the trend of the lake drying up must be reversed.
As Lake Orumieh is shrinking and deserts of salt expanding, officials are trying to find ways to avert an imminent disaster and to stop the salt lake from drying up.
The disappearance of the lake could leave behind billions of tons of salt which in turn would displace millions of people and endanger the ecosystem of all surrounding areas, whose economy depends on agriculture and tourism.
One of the largest salt lakes in the world and classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Lake Orumieh has lost more than 60 percent of its surface over the last two decades due to drought and the damming of rivers feeding it.
Many blame climate change and dam construction for this environmental disaster.
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Fivefold rise in solar energy investments
President Hassan Rouhani’s government has quintupled its spending on solar power projects, taking advantage of Iran’s 300-odd days of sunshine a year that make its vast sun-kissed lands one of the best spots on earth to host solar panels.
Rouhani’s administration has spent $60 million this year on solar projects compared to just $12 million last year. It wants to target rural communities largely cut off from government services across the country.
While being good for the environment, the panels also offer rural Iran steady power. And as the Islamic Republic cuts back on subsidies that once made gasoline cheaper than bottled mineral water, a push toward self-sustaining solar power could help the government save money and bolster its economy, AP reported.
“A big change is in the making in Iran,” said Saman Mirhadi, a senior government official in charge of solar projects.
Iran, home to some 77 million people, is a fossil-fuel powerhouse, even in the crude-oil rich Middle East. It is home to both the fourth-largest proven oil reserves and the largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Solar has been a hot topic of discussion in Iran, which this year fielded a team of university students to compete in a US solar car contest in July.
Mirhadi said the government installed solar panels at some 1,000 locations across Iran, including the rooftops of mosques, schools and government buildings.
Jafar Mohammadnejad, a senior Energy Ministry official, said recently passed laws and incentives encourage domestic and foreign investment in renewable energy projects in Iran.
It remains unclear what percentage renewable energy accounts for in Iran’s energy portfolio, though he said officials hope to produce 5,000 megawatts from renewable resources within two years. Fees on electricity bills pay for the expansion.
“Iran is rich in oil, gas and other fossil energy resources. Yet it has opted to turn to renewable energy. This shows Iran’s new strategic energy direction,” Mohammadnejad said.
Although fossil fuel is still supplied to Iranians at subsidized prices, a raise in prices earlier this year—plus a consistent drop in the price of foreign-manufactured solar panels—is making solar power more affordable. Yet challenges remain, officials acknowledge.
“More difficult than installing solar panels,” is changing the habits of people “who have got accustomed to cheap non-solar energy,” said Yousef Armodeli, the head of Iran’s Renewable Energy Department.
WSJ: Oil, auto giants plan investments in Iran
Minister predicts eye-catching growth
As Iran and world powers work on a potential nuclear deal, global companies are fact-finding, meeting with potential Iranian partners and jockeying for position, should an end to sanctions open the Iranian economy.
“We have a new environment domestically and a new look from the outside,” said Gholamhossein Shafei, the president of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Wall Street Journal reported.
A year ago, Shafei could go more than a month without hosting a foreign business delegation, due to their fears of violating economic sanctions. But these days, he greets trade missions from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America almost every day and travels to European capitals. “We have good interest now in our economy,” he said. Firms, including energy giants Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen and finanancila firms Deutsche Bank AG and Russia’s Renaissance Capital Ltd., have participated in presentations about investment in Iran.
The international companies are drawn by what could become the largest market in the Middle East, with nearly 80 million people, a majority of whom are under 30, well-educated and tech-savvy, and by the country’s energy potential.
Iran has the fourth-largest proven oil reserves and second-largest proven gas reserves in the world.
An interim pact signed in November resulted in the unfreezing of more than $4 billion of Tehran’s oil funds, the easing of some sanctions and the spike in investor interest seen at Shafeie’s offices.
A potential July agreement could lift sanctions on Tehran’s central bank and reduce restrictions on the finance, energy and technology sectors. This could free Western companies to pursue investments in potentially high-growth industries that have been closed off for nearly a decade.
US companies would still face limits to entering Iran until there is a broader normalization of relations between Washington and Tehran.
“The interest in Iran is accelerating, and the country could be at a turning point,” said Ali Amiri, a Harvard-educated Iranian partner based in Tehran and London for investment firm ACL Ltd. “My team has more than $100 million in commitments, largely from European investors, for a fund focused on the country. But if a deal isn’t reached in Vienna, this all could evaporate.”
Shafeie is part of a core group of Iranian businessmen, diplomats and economic planners who have been mobilized by President Hassan Rouhani since he took office in August to reintegrate Iran into the international economy. They include economists from American universities and former Wall Street executives.
The strategy of the group, which is also aiming to rebuild the domestic economy, was outlined during interviews with more than a dozen Iranian government officials and businessmen in Tehran and Europe over the past three months.
Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia predicted that the country’s economy would witness an eye-catching growth in the coming months, stressing that the perspective of private and foreign investment in Iran is also bright.
“The inflation rate has declined; the 11th government has envisaged a 25-percent inflation rate for the current [Iranian] year [ending March 20, 2015] and due to the successes that we have gained in the recent months, attaining this goal is possible,” Tayyebnia said Wednesday, Fars News Agency reported.
“Our prediction is that recession will continue to fall and the trend of economic growth will become positive in the current year,” he added.
Stressing that international bodies, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have voiced optimism about the new Iranian government policies, Tayyebnia said, “The perspective of the private sector’s investment and foreign investment is also bright and promising.”
The Central Bank of Iran announced in June that the country’s inflation rate has decreased by 9.8 percent since the administration of President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013.
The CBI said the inflation rate reached 30.3 percent in May 2014, showing a sharp decrease compared with the 40.1-percent figure in September 2013.
It noted that the fall in inflation rate started in November 2013, two months after Rouhani warned that the Iranian economy was in a state of stagflation, a situation where the inflation rate is high and the economic growth rate slows down.
The Rouhani administration has envisaged a 25-percent inflation rate for the current Iranian year.
Analysts believe a rise in production of goods and services has attracted liquidity to these sectors and led to the decline in inflation rate.
Zarif: Excessive demands would hinder negotiations
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday any excessive demands by the P5+1 group would be a stumbling block to progress in the negotiations.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not need anything beyond its rights and is ready to allay the concerns of the international community, but we believe that imposition is no way to hold talks,” Zarif said on arrival in the Austrian capital for the sixth and last round of nuclear talks.
Zarif said Iran has never yielded to coercion and will not do so in this round of talks, either.
“In this round of talks, the negotiating sides must enter into drafting [the final agreement] by July 20,” Zarif, who is heading the Iranian negotiating team, added.
He stressed the importance of a political will to reach a final nuclear agreement and expressed Iran’s complete readiness to arrive at and implement a final deal by July 20.
Negotiators from the P5+1 group met their Iranian counterparts on Wednesday for a final two-week long push to secure a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Since February, diplomats have attended increasingly frequent meetings in Vienna to stitch up an agreement to prove the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief for the Islamic Republic from the sanctions regime.
Under the terms of a interim accord signed in November, Iran and the P5+1—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—have until July 20 to do so.
Under the deal, the six countries agreed to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period. The top Iranian diplomat met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday.
US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will lead a 15-member American team in the talks.
The Iranian negotiators are expect to hold bilateral talks with the members of P5+1 on the sidelines of the negotiations.
Uranium enrichment is still one of the differences that remained to be resolved.
According to two diplomats briefed on the discussions, there has so far been ‘very little ground given’ by Tehran in its position on the number of centrifuges it believes it must have the right to operate under a final deal.
Iran currently has 20,000 centrifuges installed, around half of which are operational. It has aspirations to run a minimum of 50,000. The number of centrifuges is central to the discussions.
Iran and P5+1 wrapped up their last round of talks in Vienna on June 20.
Speaking at the end of the talks, the Iranian foreign minister said differences remain between the two sides over key issues related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program.
Iran and the six powers have been discussing ways to iron out their differences to achieve a final deal that would end the decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
Iraqi airstrikes kill ISIL militants in Mosul
Iraq PM rejects Kurdish territorial claims
The Iraqi army says dozens of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists have been killed in airstrikes on Haramat and Al-Ghabat regions in the northern city of Mosul.
The Iraqi army’s aircraft destroyed a 200-vehicle convoy of militants in the Haramat region that were heading to the capital, Baghdad.
The attacks in Haramat and Al-Ghabat are the latest as the army continues its operation to flush out ISIL terrorists from the northern regions.
Also the Iraqi state television broadcast the first footage of the offensive to take the city of Tikrit back from ISIL militants.
The footage showed Iraqi troops driving down the streets in the vicinity of Tikrit University.
Soldiers, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, began the mission to retake the northern city from ISIL militants on Saturday.
Reports also say the terrorists raped members of a Christian family in Mosul that provoked their father to commit suicide. The ISIL militant also kidnapped two nuns in the city.
On June 10, the ISIL Takfiri militants gained control of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh province, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
Over the past days, Iraqi armed forces have been engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists, who have overrun parts of Iraq and announced a so-called Islamic caliphate.
Senior Muslim clerics have condemned the ISIL atrocities, including mass executions and rape.
No to territorial claims
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected an assertion by the country’s autonomous Kurdish region that its control of disputed territory is here to stay.
“No one has the right to exploit the events that took place to impose a fait accompli, as happened in some of the actions of the Kurdistan region. This is rejected,” Maliki said in televised remarks.
He was responding to remarks by regional president Massud Barzani last week that there was no going back on Kurdish rule in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk and other towns now defended by Kurdish fighters against ISIL militants.
Kurdish forces moved in to Kirkuk and several other areas when federal forces withdrew in the face of a terrorist-led offensive last month.
Barzani later told the BBC in an interview that Iraq’s Kurds will hold an independence referendum within months, telling the broadcaster that the time was right as Iraq was already effectively partitioned.
Maliki also said that he hoped to overcome the challenges blocking the formation of a new government, a day after the new parliament’s first session ended without agreement on top government posts.”
A state of weakness occurred but God willing in the next session (planned for next Tuesday) we will overcome it with cooperation and agreement and openness ...in choosing the individuals and the mechanisms that will result in a political process based on...democratic mechanisms,” said Maliki. Sunnis and Kurds abandoned the first meeting of the new parliament after Shias failed to nominate a candidate for prime minister.
The Shia parties are deadlocked over Maliki’s hopes for a third term, and who would replace him.
The new parliament adjourned Tuesday, with plans to meet one week later, if an agreement on posts was reached.
Amnesty to tribes
Maliki also offered an amnesty to tribes who fought the government, but excluded those who had “killed and shed blood.” “I announce the provision of an amnesty for all tribes and all people who were involved in action against the state” but who now “return to their senses”, excluding those involved in killings, Maliki said.
The United States, United Nations, Iran and Iraq’s own Shia clergy have pushed hard for politicians to come up with an inclusive government to save the country after ISIL terrorist seized large stretches of territory north and west of Baghdad.
Iraq willing to accept arms from Iran
Iraq will turn to Iran, Russia and elsewhere for arms and military advice if the Obama administration won’t supply what it needs to halt an Al-Qaeda splinter group, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States says.
Ambassador Lukman Faily said though Washington is the Iraqi government’s first-choice arms supplier, “we have to choose whoever is available” because of the threat from the terrorist group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Los Angeles Times newspaper reported.
Iraq would be willing to buy arms from Iran, even though purchases from Tehran are prohibited under international sanctions, Faily told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“We will do that ... if we can’t get cooperation elsewhere,” he said.
The terrorist group’s advance has sharpened a dispute between Washington and Baghdad over the US supply of arms to Iraq. The administration has been selling Iraq missiles, fighter jets and helicopters, but its supply has not been as large, or as fast-moving, as Iraq would like.
The United States is supplying Iraq with F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters, but they will not arrive until fall, and the Iraqi pilots will need to be trained.
On Sunday, Russia delivered 12 fighter jets to Baghdad, a move that illustrated Iraq’s willingness to turn elsewhere.
President Obama has dispatched more than 750 US troops to Baghdad to help in the battle against insurgents, but he is moving cautiously.
Faily said Iraqis are convinced that the administration takes the militant threat seriously and that it intends to increase its involvement in stopping the group.
Iraq has bought $10 billion worth of arms from the United States, he said.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran will not send armed forces to fight against Takfiri terrorists in Iraq but will help Baghdad if it demands military equipment.
“If Iraq ever requires our arms for an effective combat against terrorism, we will provide these arms in accordance with international law and our bilateral contracts,” he said.
Although Iraq has a strong army, Iran is ready to send military consultants to the neighboring country to help with battles against ISIL terrorists, Amir-Abdollahian noted.
Destruction of nation’s trust worse than killing the deal
By Sadrodin Moosavi
Iranians have three predominant approaches toward the West.
One approach maintains that negotiation is the best solution to solve all problems. The second approach believes that the West is arrogant and it is not possible to make peace or forge all-out relations with them.
But the third approach adopted by the current Iranian administration believes peace with the United States is tenable, provided the West recognizes Iran’s rights. However, there are still authorities and officials who are not optimistic about the outcome of the ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the West offer a historic opportunity for the West, particularly the United States.
It is historic because of a very important reason: Although the deal itself is important, what is more important than the deal is the way the US and other P5+1 members present themselves in the process of talks that will have a direct impact on the confidence of Iranian nation and government.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that excessive demands of the United States or any other member of the Western negotiating team would kill the deal.
Iran has already been a victim of excessive demands of the West, particularly those of the US and Britain. Iranians have more than once lost their confidence in the United States and its allies during the 1953 coup, after the Islamic Revolution and on many other occasions.
The nuclear talks are now a good test of the West’s intentions and plans. We have already a Joint Plan of Action and a draft comprehensive plan, whose main themes are quite clear.
On the one hand, Iran will reduce uranium enrichment level to 5 percent, give access to all its nuclear facilities and assure that its nuclear program will not deviate from its civilian objectives. On the other, all sanctions must be lifted and Iran should continue its nuclear activities with all rights accorded to a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Iranian nation will verify the intention of the West in this process. If the West tries to follow domineering policies under any veneer, then the Iranian nation would not trust it in future.
The excessive demands will definitely kill the deal, but the destruction of the confidence of Iranian government and nation in the West, which could have irreparable impacts, will be worse than the scuttling of the deal.
Under such circumstances, the renewed vigor of attacks by hardliners will be backed by the estranged chunk of the population as well as by the advocates of the second approach mentioned above. The outcome is clear: isolation of the advocates of the first and third approaches.
Iran has adopted dialogue and negotiation as the best means to settle the nuclear problem. When a state accepts negotiations and opens the doors of its nuclear facilities to eligible international agencies, it means that its policies are transparent.
The West should recall that sanctions and punitive policies it pursued during the past eight years were against the NPT provisions.
Therefore, the West not only failed to reduce the number of Iranian centrifuges and level of uranium enrichment, but on the contrary increased both.
According to religious teachings, production of a nuclear bomb is prohibited.
It will not be in the interest of the West to ignore Iranian assurances in this regard and follow Israeli wishes and aspirations. It will also not be in the interest of some European countries to sell their nations to Israel or any other nation at any cost.
To win the confidence of the Iranian nation should be more important to the West than the deal itself.
Clashes in Beit-ul-Moqaddas after murder of Palestinian teen
The discovery of a body in a Beit-ul-Moqaddas forest on Wednesday raised suspicions that a missing Palestinian youth had been killed by Israelis avenging the deaths of three abducted Jewish teens.
Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in Beit-ul-Moqaddas after the news, but no serious injuries were reported.
The Palestinian leadership said it held Israel responsible for the murder of the teenager. President of Palestinian Unity Government Mahmoud Abbas in a statement demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemn the murder and punish those who carried it out.
Netanyahu, in a statement, urged police “to swiftly investigate who was behind the loathsome murder and its motive”. He called on all sides “not to take the law into their own hands”.
Palestinian residents in Shuafat, an Arab suburb of Beit-ul-Moqaddas, told Reuters they had seen a teenager forced into a vehicle outside a supermarket on Tuesday night. They identified him as Mohammed Abu Khudair, 16.
An Israeli security source said Israel suspected the youth had been kidnapped and murdered, possibly in retribution for the killings of the Israeli teens, whose bodies were found on Monday, nearly three weeks after they were abducted in the occupied West Bank. The move shows that the abduction is a ploy to undermine unity between the territories controlled by Palestinians.
Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said it was too early to draw conclusions as to the motive.
“We know of a boy who apparently was abducted and we see a link to the discovery of a body. This is still under investigation by the forensic labs and detectives,” Aharonovitch told reporters.
Tensions were also high in the West Bank, where around 40 Palestinians were arrested in raids on Tuesday, the latest in a campaign by Israel to cripple Hamas there.
Near Al-Khalil, Israeli forces destroyed the home of a Palestinian arrested on charges of shooting dead an off-duty police officer in the West Bank in April.
By Sadeq Dehqan & Katayoon Dashti
What are the treatment procedures of acupuncture?
At present, WHO has stated that TCM can be used as an auxiliary treatment. It may be recommended as independent later.
According to suggestions, a TCM physician or therapist should diagnose the disease via modern medicine and by conducting laboratory tests and examining medical documents including radiology, CT scan, and blood test. Then, he or she should start treatment and prescribe medicines.
If the patient experiences side effects of medicines, TCM physician should apply acupuncture to reduce the prescription of medicines. If the patient recovers from the disease, the physician can stop prescription of medications.
I accept patients with letters from specialists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, dermatologists, etc. These patients have not been cured by medicines or cannot undergo surgery due to old age. Therefore, acupuncture can be useful for them.
If a patient refers to me as an acupuncture physician, I ask him/her to conduct necessary laboratory tests.
Then, I prescribe medicine on the basis of his/her laboratory test and apply acupuncture for accelerating the treatment process if necessary.
Why is acupuncture not applied as main treatment in spite of being effective?
Today, we are witness to acupuncture which has been revived since 1950 and integrated into the curricula of universities and scientific centers worldwide since 1979. It means that in spite of its antiquity, acupuncture is still at the beginning of the road.
In addition, acupuncture should join or replace medical fields and methods gradually.
We have not yet reached the point to replace modern medicine and drugs with acupuncture.
What is the basis of this type of treatment?
It is based on needles which are inserted on special spots of the body. There are 631 different spots in every part of body. The needles should be inserted into these spots, but at first the disease must be diagnosed so as to place needles on places pertaining to that disorder.
On average, between 10 and 15 needles should be inserted into the patient’s body. Acupuncture needles stimulate the sensory neurons in the surface of the skin which send messages to the brain. In reaction to these messages, brain will adjust the hormones and have an influence on arteries. So, acupuncture helps restore hormonal balance.
In fact, brain leads the body. The body neither needs drug nor acupuncture nor surgery nor other treatment. It knows how to repair itself. When a part of the body is injured, it heals quickly without any stitch.
So, our brain knows how to protect the body. However, in cases that the body cannot solely encounter the disease, drugs and acupuncture help the body in this defense.
What diseases are treated by acupuncture?
Acupuncture is effective in treating pains such as backache, neck pain, and knee pain.
It also helps heal diseases such as migraine and tension headaches. Acupuncture is also good for treating infertility and sexual weakness due to hormonal changes.
We also have ear acupuncture which can treat pains and diseases such as backache, neck pain, migraine, digestive, respiratory, and skin problems, as well as gynecological diseases. It is also effective in treatment of infertilities resulted by hormonal imbalances.
The short-term ear acupuncture courses have been held in some medical universities in cooperation with Health Ministry.