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Ayatollah Tells Envoy To Stand Firm In Atomic Talks

As Iranian envoys and representatives of world powers ended their last round of talks intended to define the scope of Iran’s contested nuclear program, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering in Tehran Wednesday that Iran’s negotiators should not “give in to unjust demands.”

Talks are set to resume during the first half of May, possibly to draft a final agreement on an issue that has divided the two sides for more than a decade. Khamenei said that he had agreed to the talks “to break the hostile atmosphere” the West, particularly the United States, had fomented against Iran for decades.

Both sides could gain from some agreement: Iran would see an end to diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions — meaning a surge in energy exports; the West would realize business opportunities in Iran and, possibly, gradual rapprochement in regional affairs.

The reformist daily Arman characterized a possible final agreement as “one of the most important turning points in our history.” Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said the most recent talks were a “step forward” but toward “a more difficult, complicated and sensitive stage.” As in the past, Iranian officials publicly said that Iran would retain its installations and “achievements.”

Araqchi said during a Wednesday press conference that the Arak research reactor in central Iran would continue to operate. The reactor is concerning to the West because of the possibility that it could be used to make bomb-related nuclear weapons, though Iran denies it intends to produce nuclear weapons.

Khamenei said the talks “can continue” as long as all parties are clear that Iran’s nuclear activities “will absolutely not stop, and none of the nuclear achievements can be closed down,” the daily Jomhuri-e Eslami quoted him as saying.

— Ahmad Shayegan

Photo: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — Source: Sajed.ir/GFDL

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Society

The Guiyang Zero-COVID Bus Crash: A Chinese Tragedy In Three Acts

The city in southern China was put under harsh lockdown earlier this month after just a few positive COVID tests. Then a bus carrying quarantined residents crashed, killing 27. The senseless accident left residents more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever.

Mass testing in China’s city of Guiyang

Jian Fu, Shuyue Chen, Xiao Lin

GUIYANG — Two weeks before the tragic Sep. 18 bus crash in this southern Chinese city, a local resident named Jin was anxiously driving out of her neighborhood. The police officers on duty were blocking the intersection and the area was closed off. Even though her employer had demanded she come to work, the local neighborhood committee had forbidden her from going out. That same evening one of Jin's colleague had been asked twice to get out of a taxi, and had to walk home.

The details of how China's latest lockdown disrupted Guiyang residents sound pointless after Sunday's crash of a bus transporting quarantined residents crashed, killing 27, and sparking a new round of outrage over the country's strict zero-COVID policy. And yet it is worth reviewing what had already happened to life in the city of 4.3 million after just a few cases of the virus were detected.

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