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Phuket Gazette: Negotiators leave Iran nuclear talks empty-handed

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Phuket Gazette: Negotiators leave Iran nuclear talks empty-handed | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

IAEA, Iran fail to reach deal on nuclear probe
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: The United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog says no progress was made after hours of talks with an Iranian delegation in an effort to seal a deal on resuming a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research by Tehran.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said there was no progress after an eight-hour meeting with the Iranian delegation in Vienna. The nuclear watchdog had hoped to seal a deal to get Iran to sign the so-called ”Structured Approach” document.

“The Agency team came to the meeting in a constructive spirit with the desire and intention of finalizing the paper,” Nackaerts said following the meeting. “We presented a revised draft which addressed Iran’s earlier stated concerns. However, there has been no progress and, indeed, Iran raised issues that we have already discussed, and added new ones. This is disappointing.”

The ”Structured Approach” agreement, reached between IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano and Iranian officials during a meeting last month in Tehran, would allow IAEA inspectors to resume a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research by Iran.

“I was assured that agreement on the structured approach would be expedited and that the remaining differences between Iran and the Agency would not be an obstacle to reaching agreement,” Amano said on Monday, expressing hope Iran would sign and implement the document.

However, following yesterday’s meeting, Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that “everything is moving in the right path” and that talks will continue. “This is a special issue,” he was quoted as saying, adding that any agreement should be determined with patience and accuracy.

Nackaerts said a date for a follow-up meeting has not yet been set.

International concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear activities have been increasing for decades. And while Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear program is for the peaceful purpose of providing energy, many countries contend it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and may be close to obtaining them.

Amano said earlier this week that the Iranian government is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. This is needed before the IAEA can conclude that all nuclear material and activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes.

Amano spoke during the year’s second meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna. “I urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” he said on Monday.

The latest developments come amidst allegations that the Iranian government may be attempting to destroy evidence of its nuclear activities. Recent satellite images obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) shows sanitization activity at the Parchin nuclear facility site where Iran is suspected to have conducted high explosives tests pertinent to the development of nuclear weapons.

The DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from late May shows that two buildings at the same site as the suspected testing chamber have been demolished. The satellite images also show clear evidence of tracks likely made by heavy machinery during the demolition process and extensive evidence of earth displacement.

“The newest image raises concerns that Iran is attempting to raze the site prior to allowing an IAEA visit,” the think tank’s founder David Albright wrote in a report late last month. “The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated

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No vaccine, no flight – Qantas will require international travellers to be vaccinated | The Thaiger

Qantas, Australia’s national airline, is announcing a new requirement that all international travellers will need to have a vaccination against Covid-19 in a move that could become the norm for the world’s airline industry. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft.”

“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with Covid-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”

Joyce says the new rule is likely to become a standard practice by all airlines worldwide as many governments are now working to introduce electronic vaccination passports. Vaccination requirements are already widely used around the world for those wishing to enter certain countries, with many countries wanting travellers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease could be acquired.

The International Air Transport Association has also announced it is in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record Covid-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”

“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation.”

Australia’s borders have been closed since March to help stop the spread of the virus, which has taken the lives of more than 1 million people worldwide. The country has even limited its own citizens arrivals from abroad by implementing a weekly quota that has left thousands stranded overseas. Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and let go 8,500 staff members as it attempts to offset a US 1.9 billion loss.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Malaysia

Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO

Maya Taylor

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Technical issues force Singapore aircraft to land on Malaysian highway – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter

A single-engine prop plane from Singapore has been forced to make an emergency landing on a Malaysian highway due to technical difficulties. A report in Coconuts says the aircraft touched down on the hard shoulder of a highway in Johor, as cars sped past. The 2 pilots on board are believed to be in stable condition.

Chester Voo, CEO of Malaysia’s aviation authority, says an investigation has been launched to determine what went wrong with the plane, which has now been removed.

“Search and rescue teams have completed all required tasks. The investigation will be conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia.”

It’s understood the plane left Seletar Airport in Singapore and was flying to Melaka when the pilots contacted Air Traffic Control at Johor, requesting permission to land at Senai International Airport, due to technical problems. However, Voo says the aircraft did not make it to the airport before it had to land on the highway.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ong from Premier Aero Singapore, who provide services at Seletar Airport, says his company provided immigration assistance to one of the pilots prior to departure, but doesn’t know what happened to cause the emergency landing.

“We only assisted Dr Yang in immigration formalities with the Seletar Airport Authority for his arrival and departure.”

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK

Maya Taylor

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Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble delayed due to Covid rise in HK | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to delay their travel bubble plans as Hong Kong experiences a jump in Covid-19 cases. Although case numbers in both cities are nowhere near as serious as what’s currently being seen in places like Europe and the US, officials are erring on the side of caution and postponing the plan by at least 2 weeks.

The travel pact would have allowed people to travel between both cities without having to endure mandatory quarantine, but authorities on both sides had agreed it would be postponed if either location reported more than 5 new local cases in a rolling 7 day average. The Bangkok Post reports that travel between both cities remains possible, but quarantine is still a requirement in both places.

Mungo Paterson, a British national who lives in Hong Kong and had booked a ticket to Singapore for December 7, says the reinstatement of the quarantine requirement is the biggest problem.

“That is the main deterrent, I have no interest in sitting in a hotel room for 2 weeks – it’s not healthy. I was excited when they announced it, I thought ‘here we go’. I’m now holding off confirming until Dec 2. I think there’s a 50-50 chance the flight will happen.”

Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung says the rise in cases in Hong Kong shows that any attempted travel arrangement will not be plain sailing.

“This is a sober reminder that the Covid-19 virus is still with us, and even as we fight to regain our normal lives, the journey will be full of ups and downs.”

The strict border controls seen in Asia appear to have helped countries here suppress the virus better than elsewhere in the world, but the controls have come at a significant cost, crippling tourism and the aviation sector. Rico Merkert from the University of Sydney’s business school says that, without international traffic, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will continue to struggle, even when the travel bubble between their 2 hubs does begin.

“Even if the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor opens, the boost to the 2 aviation hubs will be limited. Singapore Airlines and Cathay will continue to struggle because they can’t funnel onto the route those travellers who would normally arrive from Europe and the US. Without that feeder traffic, those bubbles will at best be limited to the local population. International travel is going to remain a tricky affair.”

October traffic for both carriers has plummeted compared to the same period last year, with Cathay carrying just 38,541 passengers, down 98.6% on 2019 figures. Singapore Airlines has experienced a similar slump, with October numbers down 98.2% on last year’s, at 35,500.

Brendan Sobie from Sobie Aviation says at this stage, the implementation of a travel bubble is mostly symbolic, adding that the aviation sector will take years to fully recover.

“Bubbles provide a little bit of incremental additional international traffic in the interim period until the pandemic ends. A full recovery in air traffic will still take a few years, even with a vaccine, though bubbles will help get the process moving.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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