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Iran's Mistrust Of West Still Runs Very Deep

Iran's Mistrust Of West Still Runs Very Deep

Iran's top atomic official says the country would not "retreat" over its nuclear technology and could reverse its commitments to suspend high-level uranium enrichment "within hours" if the West violated its own pledges, the official IRNA agency reported.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was speaking Monday to a gathering of Iranian air force officials about ongoing talks with the West over the country's nuclear program.

Recent reports have suggested that a provisional accord with the West that would ease economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on nuclear activity have strained relations between the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani and hardline elements such as the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

Salehi said Iran had agreed to suspend 20% uranium enrichment for six months, but only "with an emphatic recognition that we have an enrichment right at any level or to any extent."

He said that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had said "America says one thing and does something else in secret, so they intend ... to disrupt our internal unity and sow discord in our society." Ayatollah Khamenei he said, was "entirely informed" of the country's nuclear affairs and set the "red lines" in talks with the West.

Meanwhile, the deputy-foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran would retaliate after the U.S. Treasury Department announced punitive measures on Feb. 6 against firms and individuals violating current sanctions on Iran. Araqchi said the move was not a violation of the text signed last month in Geneva, but against "the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and agreement set out" the accords.

He denied Iran wants to reconcile itself with the United States, as reports have suggested. "Our goal is not to reach a friendship pact. Our enmity with America remains in place. We have absolutely not engaged in the normalization of ties. The Geneva agreement seeks to manage one of the issues of discord between" Iran and Western powers, he said.

-Ahmad Shayegan

photo of Ali Akbar Salehi (securityconference.de)

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Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Noel, a Cuban engineer who had to emigrate to the faraway island of Saint Lucia, tells about the Cuban government's systematic intimidation techniques and coercion of its professionals abroad. He now knows he can never go back to his native island — lest he should never be allowed to leave Cuba again.

Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Next stop, Saint Lucia

Laura Rique Valero

Daniela* was just one year old when she last played with her father. In a video her mother recorded, the two can be seen lying on the floor, making each other laugh.

Three years have passed since then. Daniela's sister, Dunia*, was born — but she has never met her father in person, only connecting through video calls. Indeed, between 2019 and 2023, the family changed more than the two little girls could understand.

"Dad, are you here yet? I'm crazy excited to talk to you."

"Dad, I want you to call today and I'm going to send you a kiss."

"Dad, I want you to come for a long time. I want you to call me; call me, dad."

Three voice messages which Daniela has left her father, one after the other, on WhatsApp this Saturday. His image appears on the phone screen, and the two both light up.

The girls can’t explain what their father looks like in real life: how tall or short or thin he is, how he smells or how his voice sounds — the real one, not what comes out of the speaker. Their version of their dad is limited to a rectangular, digital image. There is nothing else, only distance, and problems that their mother may never share with them.

In 2020, Noel*, the girls' father, was offered a two-to-three-year employment contract on a volcanic island in the Caribbean, some 2,000 kilometers from Cuba. The family needed the money. What came next was never in the plans.

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