Iranian Female Journalist Goes on Trial on Charges Linked to Amini Protests

An Iranian woman walks in a street in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2023. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
An Iranian woman walks in a street in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2023. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
TT

Iranian Female Journalist Goes on Trial on Charges Linked to Amini Protests

An Iranian woman walks in a street in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2023. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
An Iranian woman walks in a street in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2023. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

An Iranian journalist went on trial behind closed doors on Monday on charges linked to her coverage of the funeral of a Kurdish-Iranian woman whose death in custody last year triggered months of unrest, her lawyer told ILNA news agency.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police for allegedly violating the religious dress code unleashed a wave of mass protests across Iran for months, marking the biggest challenge to Iran's clerical leaders in decades.

Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini's funeral in her Kurdish hometown Saqez, where the protests began. Tehran accused its foreign foes of igniting the protests to destabilize the country.

"The trial of Elaheh Mohammadi went well. The date of the next session will be announced by the court," her lawyer, Shahabeddin Mirlohi, told ILNA. He was not immediately available for comment.

Mohammadi, a reporter for the pro-reform Hammihan newspaper who is on trial in Tehran, and another journalist, Niloofar Hamedi, of the Sharq newspaper, have been accused of "colluding with hostile powers" for their coverage of Amini's death.

The charge potentially carries the death penalty under Iranian law.

A joint statement released by Iran’s intelligence ministry in October accused Mohammadi and Hamedi of being CIA foreign agents.

Hamedi took a photo of Amini's parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma.

The image, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first signal to the world that all was not well with Amini, who had been detained three days earlier by Iran's morality police.

The two journalists, who have been held in Iran's notorious Evin prison since last September, will be tried separately. Hamedi's trial will begin on Tuesday, according to the judiciary.

Tehran has ignored repeated calls by rights groups for a public trial for the two journalists.



US Running Out of Money for Ukraine, Could Hinder Fight against Russia, White House Warns

 Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region on December 1, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region on December 1, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
TT

US Running Out of Money for Ukraine, Could Hinder Fight against Russia, White House Warns

 Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region on December 1, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
Ukrainian servicemen of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade take part in a military training in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region on December 1, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)

The Biden administration on Monday sent Congress an urgent warning about the need to approve tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Ukraine, saying Kyiv's war effort to defend itself from Russia's invasion may grind to a halt without it.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders and released publicly, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned the US will run out of funding to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine by the end of the year, saying that would “kneecap” Ukraine on the battlefield.

She added that the US already has run out of money that it has used to prop up Ukraine's economy, and “if Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting, full stop.”

“We are out of money — and nearly out of time,” she wrote.

President Joe Biden has sought a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other needs, but it has faced a difficult reception on Capitol Hill, where there is growing skepticism about the magnitude of assistance for Ukraine and where even Republicans supportive of the funding are insisting on US-Mexico border policy changes to halt the flow of migrants as a condition for the assistance.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled House has passed a standalone assistance package for Israel, which is fighting a war with Hamas in Gaza, while the White House has maintained that all of the priorities must be met.

Congress already has allocated $111 billion to assist Ukraine, including $67 billion in military procurement funding, $27 billion for economic and civil assistance and $10 billion for humanitarian aid. Young wrote that all of it, other than about 3% of the military funding, had been depleted by mid-November.

The Biden administration has said it has slowed the pace of some military assistance to Kyiv in recent weeks to try to stretch supplies until Congress approves more funding.

“We are out of money to support Ukraine in this fight,” Young wrote. “This isn’t a next year problem. The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now. It is time for Congress to act.”

The letter followed a classified Capitol Hill briefing on Nov. 29 for the top House and Senate leaders on the need for the assistance. Defense and other national security officials briefed the “big four” congressional leaders as Congress is debating Biden’s nearly $106 billion funding package, which includes $61 billion for Ukraine but has become snared by Republican demands for US-Mexico border security changes.

“They were clear that Ukraine needs the aid soon — and so does our military need the aid soon,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told The Associated Press in an interview.


Türkiye Warns of ‘Serious Consequences’ If Israel Tries to Target Hamas Officials Abroad

 Israeli soldiers watch a tank cross a road, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near Israel's border with southern Gaza, in Israel, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
Israeli soldiers watch a tank cross a road, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near Israel's border with southern Gaza, in Israel, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
TT

Türkiye Warns of ‘Serious Consequences’ If Israel Tries to Target Hamas Officials Abroad

 Israeli soldiers watch a tank cross a road, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near Israel's border with southern Gaza, in Israel, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)
Israeli soldiers watch a tank cross a road, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, near Israel's border with southern Gaza, in Israel, December 4, 2023. (Reuters)

Türkiye warned Israel of "serious consequences" if it tries to hunt down Hamas members living outside Palestinian territories, including in Türkiye, a Turkish intelligence official said on Monday.

"Necessary warnings were made to the interlocutors based on the news of Israeli officials' statements, and it was expressed to Israel that (such an act) would have serious consequences," the official said.

Israel's public broadcaster Kan reported on Sunday that Israel would hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Türkiye and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording.

It was unclear when Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar made the remarks or to whom.


Biden’s Allies in Senate Demand That Israel Limit Civilian Deaths in Gaza as Congress Debates US Aid

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP)
TT

Biden’s Allies in Senate Demand That Israel Limit Civilian Deaths in Gaza as Congress Debates US Aid

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2023. (AP)

As a ceasefire ticked down last week and Israel prepared to resume its round-the-clock airstrikes, Sen. Bernie Sanders and a robust group of Democratic senators had a message for their president: They were done "asking nicely" for Israel to do more to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza.

Lawmakers warned President Joe Biden’s national security team that planned US aid to Israel must be met with assurances of concrete steps from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government.

"The truth is that if asking nicely worked, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today," Sanders said in a floor speech. It was time for the United States to use its "substantial leverage" with its ally, the Vermont senator said.

"And we all know what that leverage is," he said, adding, "the blank-check approach must end."

With Biden’s request for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security needs hanging in the balance, the senators’ tougher line on Israel has gotten the White House’s attention, and that of Israel.

Lawmakers of both major political parties for decades have embraced the US role as Israel’s top protector, and it's all but inconceivable that they would vote down the wartime aid. The Democratic lawmakers are adamant that’s not their intent, as strong supporters of Israel’s right of self-defense against Hamas. But just the fact that Democratic lawmakers are making that link signals the fractures in Congress amid the daily scenes of suffering among besieged Palestinian civilians.

Sanders and the Democratic senators involved say they are firm in their stand that Israel's military must adopt substantive measures to lessen civilian deaths in Gaza as part of receiving the supplemental's $14.3 billion in US aid for Israel's war.

The warning from friendly Democrats is a complication for the White House as it faces what had already been a challenging task of getting the supplemental aid bill through Congress. Some Republicans are balking at the part of the bill that provides funding for Ukraine's war against Russia, and the funding for Israel was supposed to be the easy part.

The demand is a warning of more trouble ahead for an Israeli government that's often at odds with the US in its treatment of Palestinians.

"There’s a big difference between asking and getting a commitment" from Netanyahu's government on a plan to reduce civilian casualties and improve living conditions in Gaza, Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen told The Associated Press. Van Hollen has been one of the key senators huddling with administration officials on the demands.

"So our goal is to achieve results," Van Hollen said. "And not just set expectations."

Following the senators' warning, the Biden administration has upped its own demands to Israel since late last week, insisting publicly for the first time that Israeli leaders not just hear out US demands to ease civilian suffering in Gaza, but agree to them.

Over the weekend, as an end to the ceasefire brought the return of Israeli bombardment and Hamas rocket strikes, the Israeli military said it had begun using one measure directed by the Biden administration: an online map of Gaza neighborhoods to tell civilians which crowded streets, neighborhoods and communities to evacuate before an Israeli attack.

Heavy bombardment followed the evacuation orders, and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they were running out of places to go in the sealed-off territory. Many of its 2.3 million people are crammed into the south after Israel ordered civilians to leave the north in the early days of the war, which was sparked by the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in Israel that killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says more than 15,500 Palestinians have been killed, with 70% of them women and children.

On social media, Sanders repeated his call for an end to blank checks for Israel as Israeli forces returned to heavy bombing after the ceasefire.

While Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more measures were coming besides the online map, it wasn't clear if any would lessen civilian deaths or satisfy administration and lawmaker demands.

Israel is the top recipient of US military aid over time.

Trying to attach strings to US aid to Israel isn't unheard of, for Congress or for US presidents. Ronald Reagan, for instance, repeatedly suspended or threatened suspensions of fighter jet deliveries to Israel over its military incursions in the region in the 1980s. This time, though, is notable since it is being discussed in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan and other White House officials huddled with the Senate Democrats over the warning. Israeli diplomats and military officials also rushed to stem such a move, hosting lawmakers for repeated viewings of video of Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7 to make the case for the US military aid.

Netanyahu’s coalition has weathered calls in the past from advocacy groups and individual lawmakers. Objections concerned Palestinian civilian deaths in past Israeli wars against Hamas.

Biden from the start adopted what came to be called his "bear-hug" approach to the Israeli leader — embracing him publicly, and saving any US appeals for changed behavior for private discussions. But when Biden told reporters on Nov. 24 he thought conditioning military aid to Israel was a "worthwhile thought," it helped the proposal gain traction among administration-friendly Democratic senators.

Sanders and the Democrats haven't specified what form the conditions could take, as talks continue. Several Democratic senators contend no additional law is necessary. They say existing US law already mandates that countries receiving US military aid heed human rights concerns.

Some Senate Democrats express dislike of the use of the term conditions and depict their action as more of a determination to influence an outcome.

No matter what, "we’re going to do a robust aid package for Israel," said Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat. "But it’s got to be consistent with humanitarian aid, and also efforts to reduce the suffering of Gazans who aren’t part of Hamas."


EU Envoys to Start Debating on Tuesday Ukraine Membership Talks

A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
TT

EU Envoys to Start Debating on Tuesday Ukraine Membership Talks

A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)
A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP)

Diplomatic envoys of the EU's 27 member countries meet on Tuesday to start debating a sensitive proposal to launch membership talks with Ukraine, officials and diplomats said.

The meeting marks the start of preparations among the 27 for a Dec. 14-15 summit of the bloc's leaders that is due to assess and decide on EU integration prospects for Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and others.

Specifically, the Tuesday meeting will start debating a draft agreement of the leaders' summit. EU diplomats and officials said the first draft prepared for discussion was bound to change.

The initial draft reads: "The European Council decides to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and with Moldova."

For Georgia, it said the country would get EU candidate status "on the understanding" that Tbilisi implements outstanding conditions.

For Bosnia, the initial draft stated the bloc was "ready to open EU accession negotiations... once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved."


Iran Vows to Respond to Deaths of Two Revolutionary Guards in Syria

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press conference. (Mehr News Agency)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press conference. (Mehr News Agency)
TT

Iran Vows to Respond to Deaths of Two Revolutionary Guards in Syria

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press conference. (Mehr News Agency)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani during a press conference. (Mehr News Agency)

Iran will respond to attacks on its interests in Syria, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday when asked about the killing by Israel of two Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria last week.

“No action against Iran’s interests and our advisory forces in Syria will go unanswered,” Reuters quoted Kanaani saying.

Two Iranian Revolutionary Guards members who served as military advisers in Syria were killed in an Israeli attack, Iranian state media reported on December 2, in the first reported Iranian casualties during the ongoing war in Gaza.


Erdogan: Netanyahu will be Tried as War Criminal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)
TT

Erdogan: Netanyahu will be Tried as War Criminal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Reuters)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be tried as a war criminal over Israel's ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan said that Gaza is Palestinian land and will always belong to the Palestinians.

His comments came during a speech to a meeting of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) committee in Istanbul.


White House Says Nearly Out of Money to Help Ukraine Fight War with Russia

FILE - A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
FILE - A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
TT

White House Says Nearly Out of Money to Help Ukraine Fight War with Russia

FILE - A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
FILE - A man uses plastic to cover a broken window in his apartment following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

White House budget director Shalanda Young warned in a letter to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson and other congressional leaders on Monday that the United States was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war with Russia.
President Joe Biden's administration in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and US border security.
Republicans control the House of Representatives with a slim majority, and funding for Ukraine has become politically controversial with some right-leaning lawmakers.
Young said in a letter released by the White House that cutting off funding and a flow of weapons to Ukraine would increase the likelihood of Russian victories.

Russia launched 23 drones and a cruise missile overnight on Ukraine, Ukraine's air force said on Monday, adding that its air defense systems destroyed the missile and 18 of the drones before they reached their targets.
Anti-aircraft defense was deployed in at least 9 regions of Ukraine, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.
Reuters could not independently verify the report.
The air force did not provide details on what happened to the drones that were not destroyed or whether there was any damage in result of the attack.


Iranian FM: The Region will Enter New Phase through 'Resistance Forces'

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian receives his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi at the Iranian Foreign Ministry headquarters in central Tehran (IRNA)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian receives his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi at the Iranian Foreign Ministry headquarters in central Tehran (IRNA)
TT

Iranian FM: The Region will Enter New Phase through 'Resistance Forces'

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian receives his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi at the Iranian Foreign Ministry headquarters in central Tehran (IRNA)
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian receives his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi at the Iranian Foreign Ministry headquarters in central Tehran (IRNA)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned of the expansion of the war amid the renewed Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying that the region will enter a new phase "through resistance forces."

On Sunday, the foreign minister made the remarks during a press conferen with his Omani counterpart Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi in Tehran.

The two ministers discussed the recent developments in Gaza amid reports about a possible Oman mediation in the Iranian nuclear program.

Amirabdollahian said that the new phase of the Israeli attacks on Gaza began with the presence of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the ministerial meeting of the Zionist entity.

He added that the US must bear the consequences of this hypocritical behavior in supporting Israel, saying Washington claims it recommends Israel does not kill civilians while granting it the green light for genocide.

For more than 50 days, "we have been following the developments in Palestine to return stability and security in the region and stop the killing and genocide of the Zionist regime in Gaza," he said.

The leaders of the resistance warned that if the Israeli attacks continue, the region will enter a new phase, he indicated, warning that the killing of children and women must stop before it is too late.

He asserted that Iran never wanted the war to expand, but the warmongers in the region were strongly warned to stop their support for Israeli crimes.

He said that there is documented evidence that the Zionist regime is seeking to displace people in the Gaza Strip forcibly.

"In a part of the documents that were seized by the Resistance forces during the al-Aqsa Storm operation and in a part of the laptops that were captured, this hypothesis has been proven that the Israeli regime seeks to relocate all the residents of Gaza to a part of the territory and land of Egypt, and it seeks to transfer the residents of the West Bank to parts of Jordan," he noted.

"We hope that our brothers in Egypt will take immediate and serious action to reopen the Rafah border crossing and prevent this Israeli conspiracy against the territorial integrity of Jordan and Egypt."

- Discussing nuclear power

Earlier, the official IRNA agency reported that the two ministers were scheduled to discuss developing cooperation, achieving a ceasefire in the Strip, and delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

Ahead of his visit to Tehran, Busaidi and his Iranian counterpart discussed over the phone Israel's resumption of war crimes in Gaza without any regard to the international community and global public opinion.

Busaidi warned against the outbreak of war and its expansion in the region, stressing the necessity of establishing a sustainable truce, sending humanitarian aid on a large scale, and establishing an effective international action.

Iranian media expected Busaidi's visit to Tehran to be within the context of exchanging messages between Tehran and Washington to prevent the expansion of tension in the region.

During the past two months, Iranian officials welcomed an Omani initiative proposed by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq.

However, they noted it was not a new agreement or a new plan but rather a practical initiative to converge views between Washington and Tehran and the return of all parties to the 2015 agreement.

Last week, the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said in press statements that talks with Iran might require a new framework rather than an attempt to revive the 2015 accord.

- Borrell urges Tehran to cooperate constructively

The nuclear agreement was part of the telephone conversation between Amirabdollahian and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.

The Foreign Ministry reported on Saturday that Amirabdollahian called on Borrell to stop the Israeli military attacks on the Strip and allow the entry of humanitarian aid.

The Iranian diplomat repeated previous warnings against displacing Palestinians and warned of the possibility of expanding the war in the region.

The two officials also addressed Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency's cooperation, and Amirabdollahian noted that the "cooperation will continue within a technical and legal framework."

Borrell expressed hope that constructive cooperation between Iran and the IAEA will continue.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi defended his country's positions in the Gaza war.

Speaking on Sunday at the "Second National Conference on Responsibility for the Implementation of the Constitution," Raisi said Iran's support for Gaza and Palestine is wholly based on the constitution's principles, which considers the protection of the oppressed as one of its duties.

"Since the beginning of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, one of the basic principles and approaches of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been to support the rights of the Palestinian people and to recognize this issue as the first issue of the Islamic world."

He asserted that the principle is still standing and that global political developments will not change the primary direction of foreign policy.

Raisi reiterated that 6,000 children killed by the "Zionist usurpers will bring down this fake, cruel and usurping regime."


SKorea Flies Solid-fuel Rocket amid Space Race with NKorea

A solid-fuel space rocket is launched during a test flight over the sea near Jeju Island, South Korea, December 4, 2023.   The Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
A solid-fuel space rocket is launched during a test flight over the sea near Jeju Island, South Korea, December 4, 2023. The Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
TT

SKorea Flies Solid-fuel Rocket amid Space Race with NKorea

A solid-fuel space rocket is launched during a test flight over the sea near Jeju Island, South Korea, December 4, 2023.   The Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
A solid-fuel space rocket is launched during a test flight over the sea near Jeju Island, South Korea, December 4, 2023. The Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

South Korea on Monday successfully conducted a flight of a solid-fuel rocket carrying a satellite over the sea near Jeju Island, the defense ministry said, amid a growing space race with neighboring North Korea.
It was the third successful test of the rocket's technology after two others in March and December 2022.
The launch on Monday involved technology developed at the state-run Agency for Defense Development, and a booster and satellite produced by South Korea's Hanwha Systems, the ministry said in a statement.
Hanwha Systems said the satellite, which will be used for civilian purposes including environmental monitoring, had successfully sent signals to the ground control center, Reuters reported.
The ministry hailed the launch as achieving a milestone just after Pyongyang launched its first military spy satellite, which the United States and its allies have condemned for using missile technology contravening UN security resolution.
South Korea's successful launch will enable the country to accelerate its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the ministry said.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried South Korea's first spy satellite into orbit on Friday from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base.
North Korea on Monday denounced what it called Washington's "double standard" over the two Koreas' satellite launches and said such "brigandish" American standards would never be tolerated.
"North Korea will ... continue to pursue the important mission of establishing aerospace surveillance capabilities to thoroughly monitor and control military moves by the United States and other hostile forces," the North's space agency said in a statement carried by state media outlet KCNA.
Last month, North Korea launched its own military reconnaissance satellite, with leader Kim Jong Un receiving photos of the White House, Pentagon and US aircraft carriers at a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, according to state media.
A functioning reconnaissance satellite could allow North Korea to remotely monitor US, South Korean, and Japanese troops. South Korea's satellites would reduce its dependence on American intelligence systems.


Iran Denies its Funds in Qatar were Frozen

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin during a meeting last May. (Iranian Presidency)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin during a meeting last May. (Iranian Presidency)
TT

Iran Denies its Funds in Qatar were Frozen

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin during a meeting last May. (Iranian Presidency)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin during a meeting last May. (Iranian Presidency)

The Central Bank of Iran has denied that there are restrictions on the $6 billion Iranian funds that were transferred to Qatari banks.

Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin said Sunday that the funds "are not frozen at all", confirming that their transfer is "in process".

His remarks came three days after the US House of Representatives passed a bipartisan measure that would block Iran from ever accessing the $6 billion recently transferred by the US in a prisoner swap.

The measure — titled the No Funds for Iranian Terrorism Act — passed 307-119 as Republicans sought to hold the Biden administration accountable for what they call their complicity in funding Iranian-backed terrorism in the Middle East.

The bill will have to pass the Senate, which is not likely given the Democratic majority in the upper chamber.

The new resolution would impose new sanctions on the funds to prevent the transfer of any money to Iran. It also threatens to sanction any government or individual involved in processing the transfer of the funds.

The US and Iran reached a tentative agreement in August that eventually saw the release of five detained Americans in Tehran and an unknown number of Iranians imprisoned in the US after billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets were transferred from banks in South Korea to Qatar.

But days after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the US and Qatar agreed that Iran would not be able to access the money in the meantime, with officials stopping short of a full refreezing of the funds.

US officials rebuffed the criticism pointed at the deal following the attack by Hamas on Israel, noting that not a single dollar has yet to be made available to Iran and insisting that when it is, it can only be used for humanitarian needs.

High-ranking US officials have sought to defend the decision to negotiate with Iran despite its track record of supporting terrorism against the US and its allies. But officials have also conceded that Iran’s influence over the various militant groups is undeniable.