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International News
Iran's supreme leader makes uranium enrichment threat
 
Dubai: Iran's supreme leader issued a veiled threat in the same speech in which he stated that "no one is seeking war," saying it wouldn't be difficult for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels amid rising tensions with the US, state media reported Wednesday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments late Tuesday came after Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a coordinated drone attack on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. A satellite image obtained by The Associated Press shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by the drones apparently intact.

The drone assault is just the latest incident in the Mideast to shake global energy markets, as authorities allege oil tankers anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were targeted by sabotage. Benchmark Brent crude prices remained around 71 a barrel in early trading Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the US is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region in response to a still-unspecified threat from Iran, further ramping up tensions a year after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Speaking Tuesday night in Tehran at an iftar, the traditional dinner Muslims have when breaking their daylong fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Khamenei's reported comments first focused on him downplaying the chances of a wider conflict in the Mideast with America.

He reportedly told senior officials that his country won't negotiate with the United States, calling such talks "poison." But he also said, "Neither we, nor them is seeking war. They know that it is not to their benefit." In Wednesday's edition, the state-run IRAN newspaper carried his comments on the nuclear program, his first since Iran announced it would begin backing away from the accord itself.

Tehran is threatening to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the 3.67 per cent permitted by the current deal between Tehran and world powers.

Iranian officials have said that they could reach 20% enrichment within four days. Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists say the time needed to reach the 90 per cent threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20 per cent.

"Achieving 20 per cent enrichment is the most difficult part," Khamenei said, according to the newspaper. "The next steps are easier than this step." It was a telling remark from the supreme leader. Iran is not known to have enriched beyond 20 per cent previously and it's unclear how far Tehran is willing to go in this process.

Khamene spoke just after Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are at war with Saudi Arabia and are believed by the West to receive weapons from Iran, said earlier Tuesday that they launched seven drones targeting vital Saudi installations. That included two pumping stations along its critical East-West Pipeline, which can carry nearly 5 million barrels of crude a day to the Red Sea.

Saudi Aramco, the government-controlled oil company, said that as a precaution, it temporarily shut down the pipeline and contained a fire, which caused minor damage to one pumping station. It added that Saudi Aramco's oil and gas supplies were not affected.

An image from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. that the AP examined on Wednesday shows Saudi Aramco's Pumping Station No. 8 outside of the town of al-Duadmi, 330 kilometers west of the kingdom's capital, Riyadh.

The photo, taken Tuesday after the attack, shows two black marks near where the East-West Pipeline passes by the facility. Those marks weren't there in images taken Monday. The facility otherwise appeared intact, corroborating in part Saudi Arabia's earlier comments.

Details around alleged acts of sabotage to four oil tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, off the coast of the UAE's port of Fujairah remain unclear. Satellite images obtained Tuesday by the AP from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies showed no visible damage to the vessels, and Gulf officials have refused to say who they suspected was responsible.

The MT Andrea Victory, one of the alleged targets, sustained a hole in its hull just above its waterline from "an unknown object," its owner Thome Ship Management said in a statement. Images of the Norwegian ship, which the company said was "not in any danger of sinking," showed damage similar to what the firm described.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, has said the other three showed damages as well.


Despite tensions, Pak stands ready to open Kartarpur Corridor: Qureshi
Two Govt hospitals in Pak deny specialised ambulance facility to Sharif
UN, France raise concern over Amazon wildfires 'crisis'
US seeking balancing act in South Asia over Kashmir: Report
Pro-growth RBI minutes to cap yields; revives expectations for further policy easing
N Korea dismisses nuclear talks if US 'hostile military moves' continue
President Trump to discuss Kashmir with PM Modi at G7 summit in France
Pakistan submits compliance report to FATF
Aus to join US in Gulf maritime security mission: PM
Iran says foreign minister Zarif to visit Macron in France
Johnson Brexit letter offers no alternatives to Irish backstop: EU
Pakistan summons India's deputy High Commissioner for 4th time over 'ceasefire violations'
Jaishankar to visit Nepal to participate in Nepal-India Joint Commission
Pak Army chief Gen Bajwa gets 3-year extension; 'regional security environment' cited
Hong Kong protesters rally to show 'peaceful' credentials after chaos
Leaked UK memos warn of food, drug shortages in Brexit chaos
UK strips Jihadi Jack of his British dual nationality: Reports
Modi arrives in Bhutan on two-day visit
Hong Kong protest tensions heat up in Australia
Separatists vacate key offices in Yemen's Aden: Minister
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Vivek Oberoi to star in film on Balakot air strikes
 Mumbai: After portraying Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a biopic, Vivek Oberoi says he is set to pr  
Chris Pine to star in film about Richard Nixon lawyer John Dean
Amitabh Bachchan is my real life mentor: Chiranjeevi
It's challenging to reinvent constantly: Kriti Kharbanda
KERALA NEWS
Malayalam actor, film crew stranded in Himachal village
 Thiruvananthapuram: A 30-member film crew from Kerala, including award-winning actress Manju Warrier
Ex-Deputy Commandant of AR camp held in connection with constable's death
"More flights to Kerala from Gulf countries during Onam"
Flood in Kerala: CM conducts aerial survey
NATIONAL NEWS
INX Media: SC grants interim protection to Chidambaram in ED case; no relief in CBI matter
 New Delhi: Congress leader and former union finance minister P Chidambaram was on Friday granted pro
Always said demonising Modi wrong: Singhvi
Alert in Tamil Nadu after intel of Lashkar terrorists' intrusion
FATF Asia-Pacific Group puts Pakistan in terror 'blacklist': Officials
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