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LONDON, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Iran said on Saturday it would resist the pressures of US sanctions by relying on its natural and human resources, as Washington pushes allies to cut economic ties with Tehran.

"It is a critical moment for our economy, but we are not in a dead end," Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

"This country has plenty of human and natural resources that can rely on."

"The size of our oil and gas resources is number one in the world. In minerals and metals we are among the top 10 countries," Jahangiri said.

Washington has withdrawn from a deal that had lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Sanctions imposed in August target Iran´s trade in gold and other precious metals, its purchases of US dollars and its car industry.

US President Donald Trump has said a new round of sanctions will be imposed in November, targeting Iranian oil sales.

Iran´s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week rejected Trump´s offer of talks.

Iran's rial currency has lost about half of its value since April, driven mainly by heavy demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

BEIJING, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - China on Saturday rejected what it called an "irresponsible" Pentagon report claiming Beijing's bombers are likely training for strikes against US and allied targets in the Pacific.

The Thursday report said China was leveraging its growing military, economic and diplomatic clout to rapidly establish regional dominance, while its bombers were developing capabilities to hit targets as far from the Chinese mainland as possible.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the report was "presumptuous and irresponsible", stating it was "in total disregard of facts" in a Saturday statement.

Beijing's military development was defensive in nature and intended to safeguard its territorial integrity, he added.

"We urge the US side to abandon the outdated cold-war and zero-sum mentality... (and) stop issuing such irresponsible reports year after year," he said.

China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernisation of its once-backward armed forces, and military leaders have set a goal of fielding a world-class force by 2050.

Last year, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait in the southwest of the Japanese islands, and then for the first time turned north to fly east of Okinawa, where 47,000 US troops are based.

The PLA may demonstrate the "capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam," said the Pentagon report.

ISTANBUL, August 17, 2018 (News Wires) - The Turkish currency fell again on Friday, breaking a three-day quiet spell in the country currency crisis, after the United States threatened to impose new sanctions on the NATO country.

The lira dropped about 5 per cent, to about 6.11 per dollar, after US President Donald Trump posted a tweet warning the country of more punitive measures over the continued detention in Turkey of American pastor Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who faces 35 years in prison on charges of espionage and terror-related charges.

Turkey's trade minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, said her government would respond to any new trade duties.

Dashing hopes for a quick solution to the dispute, a Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal for the pastor's release from house detention. Upholding a lower court's decision earlier this week, it also ruled against lifting a travel ban imposed on Brunson.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers and doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports. Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some US imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott US electronic goods.

The diplomatic dispute is worsening investors' concerns about Turkey's fundamental economic problems. The country has amassed high levels of foreign debt to fuel growth in recent years and as the currency drops, that debt becomes so much more expensive to repay, leading to potential bankruptcies. Economists are worried of a recession.

WASHINGTON, August 17, 2018 (MENA) - Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said that the United States is preparing more sanctions against Turkey if American pastor Andrew Brunson is not released from custody, The Washington Times reported.

“We have more that we’re planning to do if they don’t release him quickly,” he said late Thursday.

Mnuchin gave the update at a Cabinet meeting, where President Trump said Turkey is not turning out to be a great friend of the US.

The administration sanctioned two top Turkish officials last week over the imprisonment of Brunson, who was released from jail last month but is still being detained on house arrest. Turkey has accused him of fomenting an attempted coup, but the US says the charges are phony.

 

SEOUL, August 17, 2018 (MENA) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un harshly criticized international sanctions on the North during his visit to a tourist complex under construction on the North's eastern coast, Yonhap news agency reported on Friday.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and ranking government and party officials, inspected the construction site of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area.

In a meeting with construction workers there, Kim expressed discontent with international sanctions, accusing "hostile forces" of attempting to stifle the North's people through "brigandish" sanctions and blockade.

Following the North-US summit talks in Singapore on June 12, Pyongyang's official and propaganda media outlets have steadily displayed strong dissatisfaction with Washington-led international sanctions and have pressed South Korea not to blindly follow them.

 

WASHINGTON, August 16, 2018 (News Wires) - The United States imposed sanctions on a Russian port service agency and Chinese firms on Wednesday for aiding North Korean ships and selling alcohol and tobacco to North Korea in breach of US sanctions aimed at pressuring it to end its nuclear programmes.

The US Treasury said in a statement China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading Co. Ltd and its Singapore-based affiliate SINSMS Pte. Ltd had netted more than $1 billion a year by exporting alcohol and cigarette products to North Korea.

The department also sanctioned Russian-based Profinet Pte Ltd and its director general, Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov, for providing port services on at least six occasions to North Korean-flagged ships.

Kolchanov was personally involved in North Korea-related deals and interacted directly with North Korean representatives in Russia, the department said.

"The tactics that these entities based in China, Singapore, and Russia are using to attempt to evade sanctions are prohibited under US law, and all facets of the shipping industry have a responsibility to abide by them or expose themselves to serious risks," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The sanctions mandate that no US citizen can deal with any of those designated in the order, and any of their properties in the United States "must be blocked", Treasury said.

The United States has been pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

Liang Ye, legal representative of Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading, said when asked for comment on the US Treasury statement the matter was still unclear and the Chinese company had not received any notice.

China's official Xinhua news agency said the United States needed to back off with the pressure on North Korea if it was serious about wanting lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

"Washington should be reminded that the 'maximum pressure' approach on Pyongyang is not in keeping with the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and it needs to consider easing sanctions," Xinhua said in a commentary.

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