- Boat sinking off Libyan coast leaves dozens of refugees dead
- Egyptian Christian arrested for distributing Bibles has detention renewed
- South Sudan leader signs peace deal
- North, South Korea reach agreement to halt war between the two countries
- British embassy in Iran reopens
- North and South Korea shifting closer to war
- Four Christians including pastor of church accused under blasphemy law in Pakistan
- New draft law in Vietnam may further restrict Christianity
- Migrant crisis continues as record numbers enter EU in July
- South Sudan's warring leaders fail to sign peace deal
- After almost a year Al-Qaeda is back in the game
- Egypt adopts new anti-terror laws
- ISIS continues to attack Christians
- New elections loom in Turkey as coalitions fail to secure alliance
- New constitution in Nepal will render all Christian activities illegal
- Surprise announcement from Libyan Prime Minister about resignation
- Sudan bans South Sudanese pastors from leaving country
- Heavy shelling continues in Eastern Ukraine
- Hundreds injured in deadly blast in Kabul
- Obama warns of war if nuclear deal is abandoned
- Pakistan's Supreme Court backs military courts
- Backlash in China after crackdown on crosses
- US flies first aircraft over Syria from Turkish base
- 178 rescued from Boko Haram
- 'Cairo Declaration' signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia
- Canadian pastor admits charges in North Korea
- Syria named world's most dangerous country by latest Global Peace Index
- Dalit Christians in India forced to convert
- US and Turkey agree on IS-free zone in Syria
- IS reach inside Turkey forces NATO into emergency meetings
- War in Yemen shifts in favour of Saudi Arabia
- Thousands march in New York against Iran nuclear deal
- Al-Shabaab loses key city to AU forces
- Asia Bibi execution temporarily suspended
- Amidst tense fighting WFP shipdocks in Yemen port of Aden
- After nuclear deal, 47% of Israelis back strikes against Iran
- AU launches new offensive against Al-Shabaab
- Buhari is failing Nigerians as Boko Haram strikes again
- Former Boko Haram members convert to Christianity
- Israel declares right to defend itself in light of nuclear deal with Iran
- Greek bailout deal leads to violent clashes on street
- Historic Iran deal worries neighbors
- Iraq begins long-awaited operation to oust IS from Anbar province
PUTIN TO OFFER IRAN NUCLEAR UPGRADE
12 SEPTEMBER 2013 - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Iran’s new president for the first time this week, reportedly armed with an offer to supply missile systems and build a second nuclear power reactor that is likely to gladden Tehran and trouble the United States.
President Hassan Rowhani is set to meet Putin on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, in the newly-elected centrist cleric’s first meeting with a major world leader.
The Kommersant daily reported Wednesday that Putin would offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant.
The S-300 offer would be a particularly contentious development given it would essentially revive a contract for similar missile systems that Russia cancelled in 2010 after heavy Israeli and US pressure.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant that Putin and Rowhani were expected to discuss “working together in the nuclear energy sphere” and “questions of military technical cooperation” at the summit in Bishkek.
However, Peskov denied Wednesday evening that Putin had tasked officials with preparing the new arms agremeent.
“No,” Russian news agencies quoted Peskov as saying when asked whether Putin ordered to put together such a deal.
Putin’s meeting with the leader of Moscow’s long-standing regional ally comes shortly after he hosted Western powers for a G20 summit focused on Syria in Saint Petersburg last week.
Putin will make significant concessions to Iran by offering to supply Tehran with five S-300 ground-to-air missile systems, Kommersant reported earlier Wednesday, quoting a source close to the Kremlin.
Putin would offer to supply Tehran with a modified export version of the S-300 systems called S-300VM Antey-2500, the source said.
The source also said Russia would offer to build a second reactor for the Bushehr nuclear plant, Iran’s only functioning nuclear power station whose construction was completed by Russia, as a political gesture.
Putin took the decisions on September 5, the source said.
Russia in 2007 signed a contract to deliver five of the advanced S-300 ground-to-air weapons systems — which can take out aircraft or guided missiles — to Iran at a cost of $800 million.
In 2010, then president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the contract after coming under strong US and Israeli pressure not to go ahead with the sale of the weapons system, drawing vehement protests from Tehran.
Kommersant cited a source as saying that Russia’s offer would depend on Iran’s withdrawing a $4-billion lawsuit that it has lodged at an international court in Geneva against Russia’s arms export agency.
Russia could increase supplies of arms to Iran if Washington decides on military intervention in Syria, the head of the lower house’s committee on international relations, Alexei Pushkov, told parliament on Wednesday.
“If the ‘party of war’ prevails in the United States... then I consider it absolutely justified to suggest considering more serious measures by Russia, including broadening of supplies of defensive weapons to Iran,” Pushkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Iran is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main regional ally and has warned Western powers against intervention in the conflict.
Russia has opposed international military intervention against Assad and is negotiating with Damascus on a plan for it to hand over chemical weapons in order to avoid US strikes.
An arms industry source told Interfax on Wednesday that supplies of Antey-2500 S-300s to Iran “could not be ruled out in the future, but so far no pre-contractual work is being carried out by Russian exporters”.
Kommersant also cited the source close to the Kremlin as saying that Russia was ready to build a second reactor for Bushehr power station in a deal that was not “particularly profitable from an economic point of view, but is rather political”.
Moscow has cooperated with Iran on nuclear power generation despite international opposition to a programme that Western powers and Israel believe is being used as a smokescreen for building a nuclear bomb, while Iran insists it is peaceful.
Russia had urged the West to soften sanctions against Iran after the election of Rowhani, a centrist cleric, in June, expressing hopes for a major breakthrough in the nuclear standoff. Rowhani has pledged greater transparency in talks. afp