Wednesday, August 5, 2020
The Lebanese channel OTV reported on Tuesday, based on sources close to Hezbollah, that there is no truth to the reports of an Israeli attack on weapons in the port of Beirut.
The Al Arabiya network reported earlier that the explosion in the port of Beirut took place in a Hezbollah weapons depot.
Lebanese media reports said the blast killed at least 73 people and injured 3,700 others.
Abbas Mousawi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said that the explosion in the port of Beirut was "concerning" and that the government in Tehran continues to monitor the goings on in Lebanon and is willing to offer humanitarian aid.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian Authority cabinet leader, also expressed a willingness to help Lebanon by sending medical teams, rescue teams and blood donations to the country.
Saudi Arabia has constructed with Chinese help a facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium ore, Western officials with knowledge of the site told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The facility, which hasn’t been publicly disclosed, is in a sparsely populated area in Saudi Arabia’s northwest and has raised concern among US and allied officials that the kingdom’s nascent nuclear program is moving ahead and that Riyadh is keeping open the option of developing nuclear weapons.
Even though Riyadh is still far from that point, the facility’s exposure appears certain to draw concern in the US Congress, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers has expressed alarm about Saudi nuclear energy plans and about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s 2018 vow that “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
It is also likely to cause consternation in Israel, where officials have warily monitored Saudi Arabia’s nuclear work.
The Saudi Energy Ministry said in a statement it “categorically denies” having built a uranium ore facility in the area described by some of the Western officials, adding that mineral extraction—including uranium—is a key part of the country’s economic diversification strategy.
The Saudi statement said the kingdom has contracted with the Chinese on uranium exploration in Saudi Arabia in certain areas. A spokesman declined to elaborate on the ministry’s statement.
“Yellowcake” is a milled form of uranium ore which occurs naturally in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries such as Jordan. It is produced by chemically processing uranium ore into a fine powder. It takes multiple additional steps and technology to process and enrich uranium sufficiently for it to power a civil nuclear energy plant. At very high enrichment levels, uranium can fuel a nuclear weapon.
Saudi Arabia has not kept its nuclear ambitions secret, but promised that its nuclear program will be used to supply domestic electricity, enabling the country to export more of its oil.
However, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned in 2018 that "without a doubt" if Iran develops nuclear weapons, "we will follow suit as soon as possible."
Last year, the US approved the sale of nuclear technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia.
Israel has requested that the Americans remove all the nuclear fuel used from Saudi Arabia so that it would not be reprocessed.
The Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment. A State Department representative declined to say whether Washington has raised the issue with Riyadh, but said the US has warned all its partners about the danger of engagement with China’s civilian nuclear establishment
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Beirut (AFP) - Two enormous explosions rocked the Lebanese capital's port on Tuesday, killing and wounding dozens of people, shaking buildings and sending huge plumes of smoke billowing into the Beirut sky.
Video footage of the second blast showed an enormous orange fireball that dwarfed nearby buildings and sent a devastating tornado-like shockwave ripping through the city.
"We heard an explosion, then we saw the mushroom," said one resident who witnessed the second, deafening explosion from her balcony in the city's Mansourieh district.
"The force of the blast threw us backwards into the apartment," she said.
Lebanese media carried images of people trapped under rubble, many bloodied, after the massive blasts, the cause of which was not immediately known.
A soldier at the port, who asked not to be named, told AFP: "It's a catastrophe inside. There are corpses on the ground. Ambulances are still lifting the dead."
The official National News Agency confirmed deaths in the blast, without citing a number.
The explosions "caused dozens of injuries," a security source said.
The AFP correspondent said every shop in the Hamra commercial district had sustained damage, with entire storefronts destroyed, windows shattered and many cars wrecked.
Injured people were walking in the street, while outside the Clemenceau Medical Centre, dozens of wounded people, many covered in blood, were rushing to be admitted to the centre, including children.
Destroyed cars had been abandoned in the street with their airbags inflated.
A huge cloud of black smoke was engulfing the entire port area, as helicopters flew to dump water on the burning buildings.
The port zone was cordoned off by the security forces, allowing access only to a string of ambulances, fire trucks and people whose relatives were working inside the devastated area, while others were screaming to be let through. (Story continues)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the issue of the application of sovereignty during the weekly Likud faction meeting Monday after not commenting on the issue since the beginning of July.
"For me, the application of sovereignty has not been dropped from the agenda - it depends on the White House," Netanyahu told the Likud faction.
Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani said in response, "Mr. Prime Minister, the one who repeatedly promised to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, this decision will not be made Washington, but in Jerusalem."
"This is your decision alone and you must go through with it. Keep your word and begin to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria soon," Elhayani adde