German-Iranian Detainee Faces Threat of Execution in Tehran Jail

Jamshid Sharmahd with his wife.
Jamshid Sharmahd with his wife.
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German-Iranian Detainee Faces Threat of Execution in Tehran Jail

Jamshid Sharmahd with his wife.
Jamshid Sharmahd with his wife.

Jamshid Sharmahd, a German-Iranian detainee, has been held for 267 days in a jail in Tehran. He was kidnapped in July 2020 and has almost spent a year in prison without receiving proper medical care or being accorded a court hearing.

Jamshid comes from a family of dissidents that has been living in California for 20 years. They all were victims of a failed assassination attempt by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in 2009.

His daughter, Gazelle, recounted to Asharq Al-Awsat how her father was kidnapped last year. Gazelle works in the health sector in Los Angeles and has lived with her family since the abduction.

The family’s ordeal began after Jamshid completed a trip to Europe in March 2020. He then headed to India, where he remained for three months after being stranded due to the coronavirus lockdown. He left the country as soon as the lockdown was lifted, recalled Gazelle.

At one point, he had a layover in the Gulf region, and soon after, his family lost contact with him. His mobile phone was dead, and there was no way to communicate with him. Iranian Guards media said that he had been arrested in Tajikistan.

He last spoke to his family around a month ago from his prison in Tehran.

Gazelle said that even though the call was brief, she could hear the pain in his voice.

“I am well. What are you up to?” he would always ask during the six telephone calls he has made to them in the past ten months. When his loved ones ask him if he is being fed and if he is being given his medication, he responds with a cough: “I must end the call now, goodbye.”

Other than this, Gazelle knows little about his condition.

Like the rest of the Iranian diaspora in California, Jamshid is known as a fierce critic of the Iranian regime.

Unlike other members of his family, Jamshid does not hold a Green Card but is a German national and a legal resident of Los Angeles, where he runs a business in computer programming and electronics.

Gazelle said her father was unofficially charged and without any legal proceedings. He has been denied his right to an attorney and was appointed one chosen by Iranian authorities. He was also forced to make a confession under duress.

“This is inhumane. This is madness. We still don’t know where he is being held. We know nothing. All we are getting are parts of information and not the whole truth,” she said.

During the last telephone call, Jamshid informed them that he now weighs 60 kilograms, meaning he has lost over 40 kgs, she revealed. She also recalled that he was suffering from a nasty cough, hoping that he was not infected by the coronavirus.

“He also has Parkinson’s disease and has heart problems. We don’t know if he is receiving medical care,” she stated.

Asked about what the United States has done to resolve the case, Gazelle revealed that the government has not contacted them and has not demanded that Iran release her father. She said that she has written to the government from several platforms to address her father’s case and has not yet received any response.

Perhaps they are afraid of the regime or its retaliation, she wondered bitterly. Maybe it has become expected for people not to care and for others to be kidnapped and taken to another country where they are deprived of all of their rights.

Asharq Al-Awsat has contacted the State Department and other concerned sides for the past three months to comment on Jamshid’s case, but it has not received a single response.

Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, recently told NPR that the detainees and human rights files are not on the table at the ongoing Vienna nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“They’re not part of this negotiation, but they’re part, in fact, of our thinking,” Malley said. “And we’re determined to see them released regardless of what happens on the nuclear track.”

On August 1, 2020, Iran announced the arrest of an “Iranian-American leader” of a little-known opposition group based in California. It alleged that he plotted an attack against an IRGC shrine in Shiraz city in 2008 that left 14 people dead and 200 wounded. He may face the death penalty if convicted.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry alleges that Jamshid is a member of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran that is loyal to the former Shah regime. It said that he plotted other attacks against Iran amid the mounting tensions between Tehran and Washington. It accused him of running the Persian-speaking Tondar website and being a member of the Assembly’s militant wing.

The Ministry said he was arrested in a “sophisticated” operation without providing details, but it did release a photo of a blind-folded man it said is Jamshid.

Responding to inquiries from Asharq Al-Awsat, the German Foreign Ministry said the German government has repeatedly demanded from Tehran that its consulate be allowed to contact Jamshid.

The Iranian authorities have repeatedly rejected these requests, it said, stressing that it had also demanded that he be granted a fair trial.

The Foreign Ministry did not confirm whether it was aware of the charges that Jamshid, 66, may face.

Several media reports had said that he might be charged with attempting to overthrow the regime or conspiring against it.

Tehran actively blocks human rights organizations and Western countries from giving consular services to Iranian detainees and prisoners holding dual nationalities, a Western diplomat told Asharq Al-Awsat, explaining that it was a matter of policy for the cleric-led regime.

Talking about each case is challenging, they noted.

Zoya Fakhoury, a co-founder of the Amer Fakhoury Foundation and daughter of a former prisoner of the Iran-aligned militia in Lebanon, Hezbollah, said she stands in solidarity with Jamshid’s family.

“Iranian regime needs to be held accountable for its actions, and to release the innocent victims it is exploiting for political bargaining,” Fakhoury told Asharq Al-Awsat, labeling what was happening to Jamshid as “tragic.”

“We don’t want what happened to our father, Amer Fakhoury, to happen to another innocent man,” she said, blaming her father’s death on his illegal detention at the hands of Hezbollah and warning that Jamshid could be suffering from “unimaginable” maltreatment that puts his life at risk.

Cameron Khansarinia, policy director at the Washington—based National Union for Democracy in Iran, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Jamshid’s case is a shameful example of the brutal dictatorship ruling Iran.

He said that Iran has a long history of hostage-taking and cracking down on dissidents, stressing that human and detainee rights must be a priority for any American administration.

He added that the regime in Iran only responds to pressure, so the Biden administration must constantly raise the issue of Jamshid’s arrest.

It must not back down until he is released, he urged. The administration has repeatedly spoken of the value it places on human rights, and now, its policy towards Iran is an opportunity to prove itself.

If the criminals in Iran realize that the American government will not openly defend its citizens and residents on its territories, then the Americans will be in danger, he warned.



White House Says it Does Not Support Attacks inside Russia

Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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White House Says it Does Not Support Attacks inside Russia

Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
Russian law enforcement officers stand guard near a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)

The United States is still gathering information on reports of drones striking in Moscow, the White House said on Tuesday, reiterating that Washington does not support attacks inside Russia and is focused on helping Ukraine retake its territory.

"We saw the news and are still gathering information about what happened. As general matter, we do not support attacks inside of Russia," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson said Washington was "focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory," and pointed to Russian attacks on Kyiv, which has been hit by drones or missiles 17 times in May.

Russia said Ukrainian drones struck wealthy districts of Moscow on Tuesday, targeting areas where President Vladimir Putin and other Russian elite have residences. Two people were injured in the incidents, according to Moscow's mayor.

Putin said Tuesday's attack was an attempt to scare and provoke Russia, and that air defenses around the capital would be strengthened.


Russia Has Given Passports to 1.5 Million People in Annexed Ukraine, Says Russian PM

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin waves goodbye before boarding the plane for his departure from Beijing, China May 24, 2023. (Reuters)
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin waves goodbye before boarding the plane for his departure from Beijing, China May 24, 2023. (Reuters)
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Russia Has Given Passports to 1.5 Million People in Annexed Ukraine, Says Russian PM

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin waves goodbye before boarding the plane for his departure from Beijing, China May 24, 2023. (Reuters)
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin waves goodbye before boarding the plane for his departure from Beijing, China May 24, 2023. (Reuters)

Russia has given passports to almost 1.5 million people living in the annexed parts of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions since last October, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday.

Moscow claimed the four Ukrainian regions as its own last September, seven months after it launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbor. It does not fully control any of the regions, and the annexations are not recognized internationally.

"Since last October, almost 1.5 million people from the new regions have received a Russian passport," Mishustin told a government meeting. Russian officials call the four territories "the new regions".

Mishustin said some 1.6 million people in the regions were receiving pensions and about 1.5 million were receiving social benefits.

"This support must be provided, I repeat, in a timely manner," he said.

The combined prewar population of the four regions was estimated at approximately 8.9 million, but millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by the war, with many fleeing to other parts of the country or abroad. Also, many men aged between 18 and 60 are now serving in the armed forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last month giving those living in the annexed parts of Ukraine a path to Russian citizenship, but under the law those who decline or who do not legalize their status face deportation.

Mishustin made no mention of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Kyiv says it will retake all occupied territory, including Crimea, and has accused Moscow of trying to intimidate its citizens into accepting Russian citizenship.


Turkish Court Acquits Three People in Retrial over Ghosn Escape

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn (AFP)
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn (AFP)
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Turkish Court Acquits Three People in Retrial over Ghosn Escape

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn (AFP)
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn (AFP)

A Turkish court acquitted three people over former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's escape via Istanbul to Lebanon after fleeing Japan, a lawyer for one of the defendants said on Tuesday.

A jet company executive and two pilots, who were detained for several months, were convicted to four years and two months in jail in 2021 over the charge of migrant smuggling.

Mehmet Fatih Danaci, a lawyer for the jet operator executive, said an appeals court ordered the retrial of the case and returned the file to the lower court.

"We appealed the ruling. In the retrial, the court acquitted our client, along with two pilots who were initially convicted," Danaci told Reuters.

Ghosn, once a leading light of the global car industry, was arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with financial misconduct. He denied the charge and said his detention was part of a plot by Nissan executives to block a merger.

The ousted chairman of the alliance of Renault, Nissan Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp fled to Lebanon in late 2019 while awaiting trial and has since been living as a fugitive.


Pakistan's Khan Gets Bail on New Charge of Abetting Violence

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks to the members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks to the members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo
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Pakistan's Khan Gets Bail on New Charge of Abetting Violence

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks to the members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks to the members of the media at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo

Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan was on Tuesday granted bail on a new charge of abetting violence against the military by his protesting supporters after he was arrested and detained on May 9 in a corruption case, his lawyer said.

The embattled Khan, who says the corruption charges have been concocted, is embroiled in a confrontation with the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan directly or overseen civilian governments throughout its history, Reuters said.

His May 9 arrest sparked widespread protests by his supporters who ransacked various military facilities, raising new worries about the stability of the nuclear-armed country as it struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.

Khan, 70, was later freed on the orders of a court.

His lawyer, Intezar Hussain Punjotha, said an anti-terrorism court confirmed the bail on the new charge after the former premier appeared before it and submitted surety bonds.

Khan has denied the charge saying he was in detention when the violence took place.

The bail until June 2 on the new charge means he will not be detained on that charge.

The former international cricket star became prime minister in 2018 with the tacit support of the military, though both sides denied it at the time.

He later fell out with generals and was ousted as prime minister after losing a confidence vote in 2022.

Khan has since then been campaigning for a snap election, with rallies with his supporters across the country, but the prime minister who replaced him, Shahbaz Sharif, has rejected the call for an election before it is due late this year.

The turmoil has exacerbated Pakistan's economic crisis with inflation at record highs, growth is anaemic amid fears of a sovereign default on external debts unless the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unlocks delayed disbursements.

Dozens of Khan's supporters have been handed over to army authorities for trial in military courts.

A team of investigators looking into the May 9 violence summoned Khan on Tuesday for questioning but Punjotha said a member of his legal team would go instead.

Khan has appealed for talks to end the crisis. The government has rejected his call.


IAEA Resolves Nuclear Issues with Iran

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency is seen at IAEA headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency is seen at IAEA headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
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IAEA Resolves Nuclear Issues with Iran

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency is seen at IAEA headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency is seen at IAEA headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has resolved nuclear issues with Iran relating to one of three sites being investigated over the presence of uranium particles, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.

The agency’s alleged case regarding the findings of uranium particles with 83.7 purity has also been closed, a source told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

The IAEA is due to issue quarterly reports on Iran this week, ahead of a regular meeting of its 35-nation Board of Governors next week, said Reuters.


Putin Says Ukraine Drone Strikes on Moscow Aim to Scare and Provoke Russia

A view shows a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Putin Says Ukraine Drone Strikes on Moscow Aim to Scare and Provoke Russia

A view shows a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows a damaged multi-storey apartment block following a reported drone attack in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2023. (Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Ukraine's biggest ever drone strike on Moscow was an attempt to scare and provoke Russia, and air defenses around the capital would be strengthened.

Russia said eight drones targeted civilian areas of Moscow and the Moscow region - with a population of over 21 million - in the early hours of Tuesday but were either shot down or diverted with special electronic jammers.

Putin cast the assault, which brought the 15-month war in Ukraine to the heart of Russia, as a terrorist response that came after Russia struck at Ukraine's military intelligence headquarters several days ago.

Ukraine, Putin said, had chosen the path of attempting "to intimidate Russia, Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings".

"This is clearly a sign of terrorist activity," he said.

Air defenses around Moscow - which as the capital of the world's biggest nuclear power is already protected by an extensive early warning system - would be strengthened, he said.

A Ukrainian presidential aide denied Kyiv was directly involved in the Moscow attack, but said Ukraine was enjoying watching events and forecast more to come.

"Of course, we are pleased to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks. But of course, we have nothing directly to do with this," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

There is little sign of peace in one of the deadliest wars in Europe since World War Two, and Moscow has repeatedly warned that the West is escalating the war by supplying Kyiv with so much weaponry.

Moscow under attack

Drone attacks deep inside Russia have intensified in recent weeks with strikes on oil pipelines and even the Kremlin earlier this month. Ukraine denied the Kremlin attack, but The New York Times reported that US intelligence believes Kyiv was responsible.

Drone debris hit some of Moscow's most prestigious areas including Leninsky Prospekt, a grand avenue crafted under Josef Stalin, and the area of western Moscow where the Russian elite - including Putin - have their residences.

Residents in south-western Moscow said they heard loud bangs at around 0200 to 0300 GMT, followed by the smell of petrol. Some filmed a drone being shot down and a plume of smoke rising over the Moscow skyline.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said two people were injured, one of whom was hospitalized, in the early morning attack. Moscow's airports remained open. No deaths were reported.

Russia at war

So far Putin has kept the war in Ukraine far from Moscow, where life has continued relatively normally despite the biggest rupture in Russia's ties with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Russia began attacking the Ukrainian capital with swarms of cheaply produced loitering munitions often known as “kamikaze drones” last October and uses them extensively during its regular air strikes across Ukraine.

Prosecutors said incidents occurred in the Odintsovsky District of western Moscow region - where Putin has his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence. The area, the most expensive in Russia, is the home to the country's elite.

Russian state television gave the attacks calm coverage. Many Muscovites carried on with their lives with the fatalism for which they are famous.

On a warm spring day in the city center, residents could be seen taking selfies in front of the Bolshoi Theater while others relaxed in cafes and shopped in the well-stocked luxury stores of Moscow.

Putin has repeatedly cast the conflict in Ukraine as a struggle with what he says is an arrogant and aggressive West which is risking a global war by supporting Ukraine.

Thus far, the war has been described by the Kremlin as a "special military operation". The United States has repeatedly said it does not want a war with Russia and has said Ukraine should not use Western weapons to attack inside Russia.

Russian lawmakers cautioned that there were likely to be more attacks on Moscow, which many said would make it necessary to give the military and security agencies even greater powers.

"The sabotage and terrorist attacks of Ukraine will only increase," said Alexander Khinshtein, from the ruling United Russia bloc.

"It is necessary to radically strengthen defense and security measures, especially in terms of countering drones. This includes finally passing the necessary laws."


Iran Arrests ‘Assassination Cell’ Linked to Israel

Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib (left) and head of the judiciary's security department Ali Abdollahi. (Mizan)
Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib (left) and head of the judiciary's security department Ali Abdollahi. (Mizan)
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Iran Arrests ‘Assassination Cell’ Linked to Israel

Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib (left) and head of the judiciary's security department Ali Abdollahi. (Mizan)
Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib (left) and head of the judiciary's security department Ali Abdollahi. (Mizan)

Iranian security forces arrested a terrorist cell linked to Israel in the northwestern region of the country, said an official at the security department in the Iranian judiciary.

Fourteen members of the cell were arrested in West Azerbaijan province, said head of the security department Ali Abdollahi, according to the Mizan agency that is affiliated with the judiciary.

Abdollahi revealed that the terrorist cell had plotted to assassinate several figures.

Last week, the intelligence ministry said it had arrested members of an "espionage" network on charges of collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency to obtain information about Iranians traveling abroad.

Tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv escalated after Iran made progress in its program to enrich uranium by 60 percent, at a rate close to weapons-grade.

Iran accused Israel of carrying out assassinations of scientists and officials in its nuclear program, as well as targeting its atomic facilities.

On May 21, Iranian Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib said the security services arrested a "terrorist" group linked to Israel on the western border with Iraq, calling on the Iraqi government to cooperate.

Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) ground forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour threatened to resume bombing Iraqi Kurdistan if Baghdad did not implement a security agreement both countries signed in March.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) secretary Ali Akbar Ahmadian received Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem al-Araji in Tehran.

Ahmadian called for the urgent need to activate the agreement.


North Korea Says it Will Launch its First Military Spy Satellite in June

FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea on Dec. 18, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea on Dec. 18, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
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North Korea Says it Will Launch its First Military Spy Satellite in June

FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea on Dec. 18, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea on Dec. 18, 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea said Tuesday it would launch its first military spy satellite in June and described space-based reconnaissance as crucial for monitoring the United States’ “reckless” military exercises with rival South Korea.

The statement came a day after North Korea notified Japan's coast guard that the launch, sometime between May 31 and June 11, might affect waters in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and east of the Philippines’ Luzon Island. Japan's defense minister warned its forces to shoot down the satellite or debris, if any entered Japanese territory.

While North Korea’s rivals have condemned the country’s planned launch as a banned test of ballistic missile technology, it’s less clear whether the satellite itself is advanced enough to support the North’s stated goals of tracking and monitoring US and South Korean military activities in real time.

The pace of both North Korea’s weapons testing and the US-South Korean joint military exercises increased in past months in a cycle of tit-for-tat.

In comments published by North Korean state media, senior military official Ri Pyong Chol criticized the combined US-South Korean military exercises, which Pyongyang has long described as invasion rehearsals. He said North Korea considers space-based reconnaissance “indispensable” to monitor the military exercises.

Last week, the South Korean and US militaries conducted large-scale live-fire drills near the border with North Korea — the first of five rounds of exercises marking 70 years since the establishment of their alliance. Washington and Seoul describe their regular military exercises as defensive and have expanded their training since 2022 to cope with the North’s evolving threats.

Ri said the expanding US-South Korean drills and other military activities underline their “sinister intention” to prepare for preemptive military action against North Korea. He said the “dangerous military acts by the US” and its forces created a concerning security environment that makes it necessary for Pyongyang to gather real-time, reliable information on military movements in the region.

South Korea has warned that North Korea will face consequences if it goes ahead with the satellite launch in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which ban the North from conducting any launch using ballistic technology. Space-launch vehicles for satellites share core technologies with long-range missiles that are built to deliver warheads aimed at destroying intercontinental targets.

Japan’s coast guard issued a safety warning for ships that would be in the affected seas during the expected launch, citing a risk of falling debris.

Last week, South Korea launched its first commercial-grade satellite, which experts say could provide Seoul with key technology and expertise to place its first military spy satellite into orbit later this year and build more powerful missiles.

Han Sung Geun, spokesperson of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a briefing that the South Korean and US militaries were closely watching North Korea over the possible satellite launch and other provocative military moves. He did not provide specific assessments about the potential capabilities of the North Korean satellite and refused to say whether the South Korean military was preparing for the possibility that debris could fall in nearby waters.

Spy satellites are among an array of high-tech weapons systems North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has publicly vowed to develop. Other weapons systems on his wish list include solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, hypersonic missiles and multi-warhead missiles.

North Korea placed Earth-observation satellites in orbit in 2012 and 2016, though their capabilities have been questioned.

Foreign experts say the earlier satellites never transmitted imagery back to North Korea, and analysts say the new device displayed in state media in recent weeks appeared too small and crudely designed to process and transfer high-resolution imagery.

Since the start of 2022, North Korea has test-fired about 100 missiles, including ICBMs designed to reach the US mainland and a slew of launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on targets in South Korea. North Korea has said its intensified testing activity is meant to counter its rivals’ joint military exercises as it continues to use those drills as a pretext to advance its arsenal of nuclear-capable weapons.


Biden Says He and Erdogan Talked about F-16s, Sweden's NATO Bid

US President Joe Biden and Türkiye's President Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo as they attend a bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Türkiye's President Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo as they attend a bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
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Biden Says He and Erdogan Talked about F-16s, Sweden's NATO Bid

US President Joe Biden and Türkiye's President Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo as they attend a bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Türkiye's President Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo as they attend a bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Rome, Italy October 31, 2021. (File photo: Reuters)

US President Joe Biden said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a call on Monday repeated Ankara's desire to buy F-16 fighter jets from the United States, while Biden told him Washington wanted Ankara to drop its objection to Sweden's joining NATO.

The exchange took place when Biden called Erdogan to congratulate him on his victory in Türkiye’s presidential election on Sunday, said Reuters.

"I spoke to Erdogan. I congratulated Erdogan. He still wants to work on something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted a deal with Sweden, so let's get that done. And so we'll be back in touch with one another," Biden told reporters before departing the White House for Delaware.

Asked if he expected any movement from Erdogan on Sweden's NATO membership, Biden said: "I raised that issue with him. We're going to talk more about it next week."

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership last year, ditching long-held policies of military non-alignment following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Bids for membership must be approved by all NATO members. Türkiye and Hungary have yet to approve Sweden's bid.

Türkiye has sought to buy $20 billion worth of F-16s and nearly 80 modernization kits from the United States. But the sale has been stalled due to objections from the U.S. Congress over Ankara's refusal to green light to NATO enlargement, its human rights record and Syria policy, even though the Biden administration has repeatedly said it supports the sale.

A much smaller $259 million package including avionics software upgrades for Türkiye’s current fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft was cleared by US Congress earlier this year, days after Türkiye ratified Finland's NATO accession.

The Biden administration has repeatedly rejected any assertion of any "quid pro quo" between the sale and the NATO enlargement, although Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in January said the US side made it clear that an approval of NATO bids would be viewed positively by the Congress.

A bipartisan group of senators in a February letter to Biden said Türkiye’s failure to ratify the accession protocols for Sweden and Finland, which was still waiting at the time, would "call into question this pending sale", referring to the F-16s.

A source familiar with the discussions said the United States had previously told Türkiye it would be hard to get Congress to approve the F-16 deal if Ankara doesn't green light Sweden.

Türkiye ratified Finland's NATO accession in late March, but has continued to object to Sweden, saying Stockholm harbors members of militant groups it considers to be terrorists. Hungary has also not yet approved Sweden's bid.

Seeing Sweden join NATO by mid-July when the alliance is due to hold a leaders summit in Lithuania is among the top priorities for Washington.

The Turkish Presidency in a statement on the call between Biden and Erdogan said the two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on all aspects of their bilateral ties, which have grown in importance in the face of regional and global challenges.


One Killed in Fresh Wave of Russian Attacks on Ukraine

 Firefighters work near cars damaged during a massive Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Firefighters work near cars damaged during a massive Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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One Killed in Fresh Wave of Russian Attacks on Ukraine

 Firefighters work near cars damaged during a massive Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Firefighters work near cars damaged during a massive Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukrainian defense forces said they shot down more than 20 drones during a fresh wave of Russian air attacks on Kyiv early Tuesday which killed at least one person and injured four others when their apartment building was hit and caught fire.

Kyiv's military administration said the latest attack involved only Iranian-made Shahed drones, and no missiles as has been the case in most previous raids, Reuters said.

"A massive attack!" Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app. "Do not leave shelters."

One person died and four were injured when debris from a destroyed Russian projectile hit a high-rise apartment building sparking a fire, Ukrainian officials said.

Two upper floors of the building were destroyed and there could still be people under the rubble, Kyiv's military administration officials said on the Telegram messaging app.

Photos from Kyiv officials and Reuters witnesses showed flames engulfing the top floors of the building and smoke rising from the roof.

"The attack was massive, came from different directions, in several waves," Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, said on the Telegram.

Debris hit several other districts of the capital including the historic Podil and Pecherskyi neighbourhoods. It was not immediately known how many drones Russia launched and there was no immediate comment from Moscow.

Russia has repeatedly attacked the Ukrainian capital in May using a combination of drones and missiles, mostly at night, in an apparent attempt to undermine Ukrainians' will to fight after more than 15 months of war.

Tuesday's strikes were Russia's 17th air assault on the capital this month and came after the city was attacked twice on Monday, including an unusual daytime strike.

In a rare acknowledgement of damage to a military "target", Ukraine said a runway was damaged and five aircraft were taken out of service on Monday in western Khmelnitskiy region.

Russian state-owned news agency RIA cited the defense ministry as saying more than one air base had been hit. There was no confirmation from Ukraine of damage to other air bases.

Ukrainian officials said most of the drones and missiles fired on Sunday and Monday had been shot down and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised US-supplied Patriot anti-missile defenses.

"When Patriots in the hands of Ukrainians ensure a 100% interception rate of any Russian missile, terror will be defeated," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Monday.

PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE

The air attacks come as Ukraine prepares a counter-offensive backed with Western weapons to try to drive Russian occupiers out of territory seized since Moscow launched what it calls its "special military operation" in February 2022.

"With these constant attacks, the enemy seeks to keep the civilian population in deep psychological tension," said Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration.

On the eastern frontlines, Russian paratroops and motorized units were replacing Wagner mercenary units in the eastern city of Bakhmut, according to Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for the eastern group of Ukrainian Forces.

Wagner began handing over positions to regular troops this week after declaring full control of Bakhmut following the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

Moscow said it invaded Ukraine to "denazify" its neighbor and protect Russian speakers. Western opponents say the invasion is an imperialist land grab in which tens of thousands have been killed, millions uprooted and cities reduced to ruins.

Russia says it is open to resuming stalled peace talks with Kyiv and has welcomed mediation efforts from Brazil and China.

But a top aide to Zelenskiy said Kyiv's peace plan, envisaging the full withdrawal of Russian troops, was the only way to end the war.

"There cannot be a Brazilian peace plan, a Chinese peace plan, a South African peace plan when you are talking about the war in Ukraine," chief diplomatic adviser Ihor Zhovkva told Reuters in an interview late on Friday.

CALL FOR A DMZ

Another Zelenskiy aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, wrote on Twitter that any post-war settlement should include a demilitarized zone of 100-120 km (62-75 miles) inside Russia along the border.

The European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said he believed Russia would not want to negotiate while it was still trying to win the war.

Ukraine's military said an attack on Odesa port had caused a fire and damaged infrastructure but did not specify whether the damage threatened grain exports.

Ukraine is an key global grain supplier and the port is vital for shipping. It is also one of three countries in a UN-brokered deal on the safe export of grain via the Black Sea.

Russia said on Monday the grain deal would no longer be operational unless a UN agreement with Moscow to overcome obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer exports was fulfilled.

This month, Moscow reluctantly agreed to extend the grain deal until July 17.