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World ‘nowhere close’ to needed coronavirus herd immunity: Live |

The World Health Organization has said the world is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed to induce herd immunity, a situation where enough people would have antibodies to stop the spread. South Africa relaxes lockdown restrictions allowing bars, restaurants, gyms and places of worship to reopen. The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 around…

World ‘nowhere close’ to needed coronavirus herd immunity: Live |

The World Health Organization has said the world is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed to induce herd immunity, a situation where enough people would have antibodies to stop the spread.

South Africa relaxes lockdown restrictions allowing bars, restaurants, gyms and places of worship to reopen.

The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 around the world now exceeds 21.8 million, and more than 774,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 13.9 million people have recovered from the disease.

Here are the latest updates:
20:15 GMT – New York University students queue up for coronavirus tests
Hundreds of New York University students and staff have waited in line outside a white tent for coronavirus testing ahead of some classes resuming in early September, a scene expected to unfold on many US. campuses in coming weeks.
NYU is testing students who have chosen in-person learning, with classes for undergraduates beginning on September 2. The university, housed in hundreds of buildings across lower Manhattan, is also giving students the options of remote learning or a blended program between the two.

20:00 GMT – Millions return to schools lacking handwashing facilities: UN
More than 800 million children around the world lack basic handwashing facilities at their schools, putting them at an increased risk of catching the new coronavirus when schools reopen, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
A joint report published last week by the WHO and UNICEF, the UN children’s fund, revealed that 43 percent of schools worldwide lacked facilities for basic handwashing with soap and water in 2019, affecting 818 million children – more than a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa. 
Read more here. 
19:40 GMT – Brazil indigenous protesters suspend roadblock
Indigenous protesters in Brazil have agreed to suspend their roadblock of a key highway amid a court battle, but vowed to fight on for more help against COVID-19 and an end to deforestation.Brandishing bows and wearing traditional feather headdresses and body paint, dozens of protesters from the Kayapo Mekranoti ethnic group had been blocking highway BR-163 through the Amazon rainforest since Monday morning.The highway is an important artery for farmers in Brazil’s agricultural heartland to ship corn and soybeans, two of the country’s main exports, to the river ports of the Amazon and beyond.
19:25 GMT – Canada’s hardest-hit province for COVID-19 launches plan to combat second wave
The Canadian province of Quebec has announced plans to tackle earlier mistakes in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, while preparing its health sector against a possible second wave of coronavirus in the autumn.
Quebec, once the country’s hardest-hit province for COVID-19, will boost public health sector hiring, reduce screening delays, and ensure staff like orderlies can no longer work at multiple long-term care facilities, a practice previously blamed for spreading the virus, Health Minister Christian Dube told reporters.
19:10 GMT – Boeing seeks more voluntary layoffs
Boeing has launched a second round of voluntary layoffs to trim its workforce, the company said, as it navigates a brutal commercial aviation market and seeks to return the 737 MAX to service.
The move comes on top of a 10 percent staff cuts earlier this year as commercial airline customers defer deliveries and cancel orders, hitting Boeing’s profits.
“While we have seen signs of recovery from the pandemic, our industry and our customers continue to face significant challenges,” the aerospace giant said in a message to AFP.

18:55 GMT – Ireland ramps up restrictions as cases surge
Ireland has significantly tightened its nationwide coronavirus restrictions to try to rein in a surge in cases, urging everyone to restrict visitors to their homes, avoid public transport and older people to limit their contacts.
A spike in cases over the last three weeks, after Ireland had one of Europe’s lowest infection rates for several weeks, pushed its 14-day cumulative cases per 100,000 of population to 26, and led to the first local lockdown last week.
18:40 GMT – Pelosi: Democrats willing to cut COVID-19 bill in half to get a deal
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Democrats in Congress are willing to cut their coronavirus relief bill in half to get an agreement on new legislation with the White House and Republicans.
“We have to try to come to that agreement now,” Pelosi said in an online interview with Politico. “We’re willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now. We’ll take it up again in January. We’ll see them again in January. But for now, we can cut the bill in half.”

18:25 GMT – S. Korea tightens restrictions in Seoul area to tackle virus surge
South Korea has ordered nightclubs, museums and buffet restaurants closed and banned large gatherings in and around the capital as a burst of new coronavirus cases sparked fears of a major second wave.
The country’s “trace, test and treat” approach to curbing the virus has been held up as a global model, but it is now battling several clusters mostly linked to Protestant churches.
18:10 GMT – Zimbabwe shortens coronavirus curfew
 Zimbabwe has shortened an overnight curfew imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic and extended business hours despite rising cases, the government has said after a weekly cabinet meeting.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month announced a 6 pm to 6 am curfew, but Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said this had left commuters stranded without transport.
17:55 GMT – France reports over 2,000 new infections
The French health ministry has reported 2,238 confirmed new coronavirus infections, less than recent daily highs but still at levels last seen during the March-May lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
The seven-day moving average of the case count, which smooths out daily reporting irregularities, has now been above 2,000 for five consecutive days, a level that was last seen around the middle of April.

17:40 GMT – Australia to manufacture ‘promising’ virus vaccine 
Australia has secured access to a “promising” potential coronavirus vaccine, the prime minister announced , saying the country would manufacture it and offer free doses to the entire population.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia had reached a deal with Swedish-British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to receive the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Oxford University.

17:25 GMT – Montenegro delays start of school over coronavirus
Montenegro will postpone the start of the school year by one month due to the the “uncertain” status of the coronavirus pandemic, the education ministry has said.
Countries across the Balkans have been debating how to safely resume classes after a summer of rising coronavirus infections.
17:10 GMT – Turkey’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 6,000
Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus has risen by 20 to 6,016, health ministry data showed, with the total number of identified cases rising to 251,805.
The data showed that 1,263 new cases were identified in the last 24 hours, rising from 1,233 a day earlier.

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 walk on a street in Ulus district in Ankara [File: AFP]

16:55 GMT – COVID-19 pandemic causes mental health crisis in Americas: WHO official
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in the Americas due to heightened stress and use of drugs and alcohol during six months of lockdowns and stay-at-home measures, the World Health Organization’s regional director said.
“It is urgent that mental health support is considered a critical component of the pandemic response,” Carissa Etienne said in a virtual briefing from the Pan American Health Organization in Washington.

What’s the psychological cost of the coronavirus? | Inside Story

16:40 GMT – Pandemic-hit Chile GDP plunges 14 percent
Chile’s GDP plunged 14.1 percent in the second quarter, the Central Bank has said, after the coronavirus pandemic mauled economic activity with the exception of the vital mining sector.
Among the worst-hit sectors were manufacturing, construction and the hotel and restaurant sector. In the first quarter, Chilean GDP had increased slightly by 0.2 percent.
“In the second quarter of the year, economic activity decreased by 14.1 percent compared to the same period last year,” the Central Bank said.

16:25 GMT – Poland’s health minister resigns after virus response criticised
Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski has said he was resigning from his post, the second resignation in two days from the ministry, which has faced growing criticism for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Szumowski’s approach in the early stages of the pandemic made him Poland’s most trusted politician in April, but his image has been dented by scandals surrounding the purchase of ventilators and masks.
Szumowski has denied any wrongdoing.
16:10 GMT – Lebanon reimposes lockdown amid COVID-19 spike: ministry
Lebanese authorities have announced a new lockdown and an overnight curfew to rein in a spike in coronavirus infections.
The new measures will come into effect on Friday and last just over two weeks, the interior ministry said, adding that they would not affect the clean-up and aid effort following the devastating August 4 Beirut port blast.
The airport is expected to remain open and all traffic to and from is allowed if passengers can show authorities a ticket from their trip.

Lebanese authorities have announced a new lockdown [File: Joseph Eid / AFP]

15:55 GMT – Tennis-Individual tests positive for COVID-19 at US Open bubble
A non-player has tested positive for COVID-19 within the controlled environment that will host this year’s Western & Southern Open and US Open in New York over the next month, the United States Tennis Association has said.
The individual is asymptomatic and has been advised that they must isolate for at least ten days, while contact tracing has been initiated to determine if anyone else must go into quarantine, the USTA said in a statement.
15:40 GMT – UAE sees ‘alarming’ increase in coronavirus cases
 An increase in the number of coronavirus cases over the past two weeks is “alarming” and may herald further increases in the near future, the United Arab Emirates’ health minister has said.
The UAE registered 365 new cases and two deaths over the last 24 hours, the government said, bringing the total number of COVID-19 infections in the Gulf state since the start of the pandemic to 64,906 with 366 deaths.

15:25 GMT – Merkel rules out easing coronavirus rules as German cases spike
Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned there could be no further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions while Germany grapples with a surge in new infections.
She urged Germans to follow the rules on hygiene precautions and reminded travellers returning from risk areas that quarantine was not an option “but a must” so long as they could not show a negative test.
“We are seeing that an increase in mobility and closer contacts are leading to a higher number of cases,” Merkel told a press conference in Duesseldorf.
15:10 GMT – UK records 1,089 new COVID-19 cases
The United Kingdom has recorded 1,089 new positive cases of COVID-19, up from 713 on Monday, government figures showed.
A further 12 people died after testing positive for the coronavirus within 28 days. The UK has recorded more than 1,000 daily cases on eight out of the last 10 days.
14:55 GMT – Dozens of Kenyan doctors strike over lack of PPE, delayed pay
Dozens of doctors in at least two of Kenya’s 47 counties have gone on strike over delayed salaries, inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for handling COVID-19 patients and lack of medical insurance, a union official told Reuters.
Kenya has a total 30,636 confirmed infections, with 487 deaths, according to health ministry data.
Healthcare workers say they have not been given adequate PPE, but the government has said it has distributed enough to go round.
14:40 GMT – Brazil greenlights human trials for J&J’s potential vaccine
Brazil has approved human clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, the fourth candidate to trial in the Latin American country that has become key to the global race for a vaccine.
Health regulator Anvisa said it had given the green light to the study which will see 6,000 people in Brazil volunteer to trial the vaccine contender of Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen.

14:35 GMT
Hello, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos taking over the live updates from my colleague Hamza Mohamed in Doha.
Tuesday, August 18
12:35 GMT – France says masks to be made compulsory in most workplaces
Masks will be compulsory in workplaces in France, apart from individual offices where only one employee is present, the French employment ministry said on Tuesday, as the government looks to fight against a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry added in a statement that working from home would remain its recommended option for employees.
12:05 GMT – Namibia warns about elephant dung cure for coronavirus
The Namibian government is warning its citizens not to trust claims on social media that elephant dung can cure COVID-19, as coronavirus infections rise more rapidly.
The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism spokesman, Romeo Muyunda, told Reuters the government had observed that elephant dung was increasingly being touted as a COVID-19 cure.
Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said COVID-19 currently has no known cure.

Some traditional healers say elephant dung has healing properties, including for treating headaches, toothaches and blocked sinuses, but claiming it can cure COVID-19 is a new trend [Getty Images]

11:25 GMT – Study links COVID-19 to rise in childhood type 1 diabetes
Cases of type 1 diabetes among children in a small UK study almost doubled during the peak of country’s COVID-19 epidemic, suggesting a possible link between the two diseases that needs more investigation, scientists said on Tuesday.
While the study is based on only a handful of cases, it is the first to link COVID-19 and new-onset type 1 diabetes in children, and doctors should be on the lookout, the Imperial College London researchers said.
Karen Logan, who co-led the study, said previous reports from China and Italy had noted that children were being diagnosed in hospitals with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the pandemic.

The study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, analysed data from 30 children in London hospitals diagnosed with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the first peak of the pandemic – around double the cases seen in this period in previous years [Radu Sigheti/Reuters]

10:30 GMT – South Africa eases coronavirus restrictions
South Africa, which had one of the world’s strictest anti-coronavirus lockdowns for five months, relaxed its restrictions on Tuesday in response to a decrease in new cases.
The country loosened its regulations to permit the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, and the reopening of bars, restaurants, gyms and places of worship, all limited to no more than 50 people.
Schools will reopen gradually starting August 24.

South Africa has recorded more than 589,880 cases and at least 11,982 deaths [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

09:55 GMT – Philippines reports 4,836 new coronavirus cases
The Philippines’ health ministry on Tuesday confirmed 4,836 novel coronavirus infections, the seventh straight day of reporting more than 3,000 cases, and seven additional deaths.
In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases had increased to 169,213, while deaths had reached 2,687.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday eased the strict coronavirus lockdown in the capital Manila and nearby provinces to reopen the economy and help struggling businesses, despite the country having the highest number of infections in Southeast Asia.
09:20 GMT – French side Marseille confirm three more coronavirus cases
Olympique Marseille have confirmed three more cases of coronavirus at the club, taking the total to four before they open the new Ligue 1 season at home to St Etienne on Friday.
Marseille said in a statement on Tuesday that testing on Monday did not reveal new cases but confirmed three suspected cases from Sunday.

Marseille cancelled a pre-season friendly with Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart last week due to a positive test for COVID-19 [Christof Stache/Reuters]

Last season’s Ligue 1 was abandoned due to the global pandemic though Paris Saint-Germain were declared champions.
08:45 GMT – Indonesia reports 1,673 new coronavirus infections
Indonesia reported 1,673 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian nation to 143,043, data from the country’s health ministry showed.
The data recorded an additional 70 deaths, taking the total to 6,277.
08:15 GMT – Foreign residents still need permission to return to Dubai
Foreign residents of Dubai who have been overseas still need permission to return to the city, the emirate said.
The United Arab Emirates in March suspended the entry of non-citizens as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. Residents have since gradually been allowed to return, either after being granted a special exemption or by registering online, though many still remain overseas.
Last week, a federal policy requiring overseas residents to seek approval before they returned to the Gulf state was lifted. However, Dubai still requires residents to apply for an entry permit, the emirate said in a statement.
Those travelling to the UAE need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test before arriving.

The UAE has recorded 64,541 infections and 364 deaths [Francois Nel/Getty]

07:45 GMT – Russia confirms 4,748 new cases
Russia reported 4,748 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing its nationwide tally to 932,493, the fourth largest in the world.
The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 132 people had died of the disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the official coronavirus death toll to 15,872.

Only the US, Brazil and India have recorded more cases than Russia [Pavel Golovkin/AP]

07:30 GMT – UK retailer Marks and Spencer to axe 7,000 jobs
Marks and Spencer, the British retail chain selling clothing and food, is to cut about 7,000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic keeps shoppers away from its stores, it announced on Tuesday. The job cuts, to be carried out over the next three months, include losses from its central support centre, in regional management and in its UK stores, M&S said in a statement.
07:20 GMT – Indian minister back in hospital after recovering from COVID-19
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah was hospitalised again on Tuesday after complaining of fatigue and body ache, four days after he said he had recovered from COVID-19.
Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the virtual number-two in his cabinet, was admitted to the government-run All India Institute for Medical Sciences in the capital New Delhi, the hospital said in a statement.
“He is comfortable and continuing his work from the hospital,” it said, adding he had now tested negative for COVID-19.

Shah is the highest-profile Indian politician to have been infected with the coronavirus [File: Prakash Singh/AFP]

India has reported the world’s third-largest number of infections after the United States and Brazil, with cases topping 50,000 every day since July 30.
07:00 GMT – Russian minister to join OPEC meeting after testing positive for COVID-19
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak will join an OPEC ministers’ video meeting on Wednesday despite testing positive for coronavirus while on a work trip in Russia’s far east, the energy ministry said.
“The minister feels good. He has no symptoms,” a ministry spokeswoman told Reuters news agency.
Novak is in Russia’s far east as part of a government delegation headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who had contracted the novel coronavirus in late April.

Novak will continue working remotely for the time being, energy ministry spokeswoman Olga Golant said [Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

06:15 GMT – More than 680 people die of COVID-19 in Brazil
Brazil recorded 684 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 108,536, the country’s health ministry said.
At least 19,373 more people have contracted the virus, the ministry added, taking the total to 3,359,570.
With a population of 46 million, Sao Paulo remains the hardest-hit region in the country with 702,655 cases and 26,899 deaths.

More than 2.48 million people have recovered from the disease in the South American country [Tarso Sarraf/AFP] 

05:45 GMT –
Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha, Qatar, taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
05:30 GMT – South Korea braces for second wave, with cases linked to church services
South Korea reported 246 more cases of coronavirus – 235 of them locally acquired – on Tuesday, its fifth day of triple-digit increases.
Of the new cases, 131 were reported in Seoul and 52 in the surrounding Gyeonggi province. 
Scores of cases have been traced to the Sarang Jeil Church in the north of the capital, and authorities have urged people who attended an anti-government rally on Saturday to get tested because some church followers known to have the virus were at the protest.

05:15 GMT – Hongkong Post to test front-line workers
Hongkong Post says it will arrange COVID-19 testing for about 3,800 staff responsible for mail delivery, outdoor duties and counter service.
The tests are scheduled for August 20 and 21 and Hongkong Post expects the process will be completed within two days of taking a specimen. 
04:55 GMT – China’s Sinopharm promises vaccine will be affordable 
China’s state media is reporting that a potential vaccine being developed by a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), will cost no more than 1,000 yuan ($144.27) for two shots.
Sinopharm says its vaccine – currently in late-stage human trials in the United Arab Emirates – could be ready for public use by the end of this year.
“It will not be priced very high,” Sinopharm chairman Liu Jingzhen was quoted as saying by the Guangming Daily.
More than 200 vaccines are currently in development with more than 20 in human trials.
04:00 GMT – WHO says younger people increasingly driving pandemic
The World Health Organization’s regional director for the Western Pacific says younger people – those in their 20s, 30s and 40s – are increasingly driving the pandemic.
Takeshi Kasai told a virtual briefing that many were unaware they had the disease.
“This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable: the elderly, the sick people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated areas and underserved areas,” he said.

— World Health Organization Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) August 17, 2020

03:40 GMT – Mutation of virus could be a ‘good thing’
A prominent expert in infectious diseases says the mutation of the coronavirus into a more infectious strain could be a “good thing” because it appears to be less deadly.
Paul Tambyah, a senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, says the D614G strain increasingly found in Europe – and this week reported in Malaysia – told Reuters viruses tended to become less deadly as they mutated.
You can read more on that story here.
03:20 GMT – Shenzhen steps up procedures to check frozen goods
While New Zealand may have ruled out frozen food imports as the source of its latest outbreak of coronavirus, Chinese state media reports the southern city of Shenzhen is setting up a warehouse specifically to handle such imports.
All imported frozen foods will have to go through the facility, where they will be disinfected, before they can be processed, stored or sold in Shenzhen. Samples will also be taken for nucleic acid testing.

Shenzhen will set up a warehouse for the supervision of #ImportedFrozenFoods starting from Tue as concerns rise over the risk of cold-chain supplies carrying #COVID19. A worker said it will take 5-8 hours for containers to finish the process.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 18, 2020

02:50 GMT – New Zealand rules out link to frozen food and freight in recent outbreak
New Zealand has ruled out frozen food and freight as the cause of the recent coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told the media that investigations showed the virus did not come through chilled foods or materials arriving from overseas at a cold storage facility where one of the people diagnosed with the virus worked.
Auckland is in lockdown until August 26 and investigations into the origin of the outbreak are continuing.
02:20 GMT – Coronavirus on agenda as Democrats open convention in US
The Democrats in the US have begun the convention that will officially nominate Joe Biden as the party’s candidate in November’s presidential election.
Actress Eva Longoria opened the event – held virtually because of COVID-19 – by saying that the pandemic had “affected us all”.
Later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the convention saying that the administration of incumbent President Donald Trump was “dysfunctional and incompetent” and had failed to tackle the coronavirus. 

‘Our current federal government is dysfunctional and incompetent. It couldn’t fight off the virus. In fact, it didn’t even see it coming,’ says @NYGovCuomo. Live #DemConvention updates:
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 18, 2020

You can follow our live updates on the convention here.
02:00 GMT – Rio mayor scraps beach app reservation plan
Rio de Janeiro’s mayor has scrapped plans to launch an app for people to reserve their space on the beach after public ridicule.
Marcelo Crivella was inundated with criticism and a flood of memes on social media after announcing the proposal last week.
The mayor’s office now says the app will be scrapped and sitting on the beach will remain banned.
People have been allowed to swim in the ocean since the end of last month. 

An installation on Rio’s Copacabana Beach to honour the people who have died from COVID-19 in Brazil [Antonio Lacerda/EPA]

01:30 GMT – New Zealand reports 13 new cases
New Zealand’s reported 13 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours.
Twelve of the cases are linked to an existing cluster that forced the lockdown of Auckland – the country’s biggest city.
00:30 GMT – Protests in Argentina against extension of coronavirus restrictions
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across Argentina to show their opposition to President Alberto Fernandez and his plans to extend coronavirus restrictions in the region around Buenos Aires.
Demonstrators gathered in the centre of the city shouting “freedom, freedom”, waving flags and chanting anti-government slogans. 
Argentina has recorded nearly 300,000 cases of the disease and 5,750 deaths. About 90 percent of the cases have been in Buenos Aires where the coronavirus curbs have been extended until August 30. 
00:10 GMT – Hopes rise in Victoria that outbreak easing after lowest cases in a month
The Australian state of Victoria has reported its lowest number of coronavirus cases in a month, raising hopes that the second wave outbreak in the state is slowing.
Victoria reported 222 cases of the disease in the last 24 hours.
It also reported a further 17 deaths.

A man walks past a billboard in Melbourne reminding people that face masks are compulsory [William West/AFP] 

00:00 GMT – Museum of Modern Art in New York to reopen on August 27
New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will reopen – with fewer visitors allowed, timed ticketing and mandatory face masks – on August 27.
MoMA has been closed for five months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is due to open on August 29, while the Whitney Museum of American Art will reopen on September 3.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from yesterday (August 17) here.
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COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…

Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
IAEA-Iran relations
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.

“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.

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Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…

Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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