Iran’s Raisi Tells Putin ‘We’re Serious’
IRAN’S RAISI SAYS TEHRAN IS ‘ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS’ ABOUT NUCLEAR TALKS: Iran is “absolutely serious” about nuclear talks expected to resume late this month, its President Ebrahim Raisi told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday, November 16.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is absolutely serious about the negotiations and we are equally serious about our people’s rights to have sanctions lifted,” Raisi said, according to a statement published on the presidency’s website. His remarks come one day after Tehran invited the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, to visit and meet Iran’s foreign minister, after the UN official expressed concern over lack of contact with Iranian officials. Nuclear talks, which have been on hold since Raisi’s election in June, are set to resume in Vienna on November 29 in a bid to revive the 2015 deal that offered Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear activity. The deal was torpedoed when Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of it in 2018. The other parties to the deal — Russia, China, Germany, Britain, and France — will participate in the Vienna talks in the presence of European negotiator Enrique Mora. The US will take part in the negotiations indirectly. According to a Kremlin statement, Putin expressed hopes “that the talks scheduled for late November will be constructive.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on the West not to make “excessive demands” on Tehran in the talks, in a call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov earlier this month. (TOI / VFI News)
CAN ISRAEL’S VACCINE END THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?: Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine could be a game-changer for Israel and the rest of the world. “There is innovation associated with the Israeli vaccine that potentially addresses this terrible virus better than other technologies,” said Dr. Jonathan Javitt, CEO of NeuroRx, the US pharmaceutical company that was given exclusive worldwide development, manufacturing, and marketing rights to Israel’s BriLife vaccine over the summer.
The vaccine candidate was originally developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), which operates under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office and works closely with the Defense Ministry. Prof. Yossi Caraco, director of Hadassah’s clinical research unit, who served as the national principal investigator for the trial, said this data should be looked at with “precaution,” but that it was also “promising” and even “encouraging.” The BriLife vaccine is based on a platform used by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. for its Ebola vaccine, meaning it is a platform that has been validated around the world for several years and has been proven both safe and effective. BriLife is a vector-based vaccine. The vaccine takes the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and genetically engineers it so it will express the spike protein of the novel coronavirus on its envelope. Once injected, it does not cause disease by itself. Instead, the body recognizes the spike protein that is expressed on the envelope and begins to develop an immunological response. Moreover, unlike other vaccines, this one binds to the exact cell in the lung that is targeted by the novel coronavirus. “It’s like getting a virus-like coronavirus without getting the disease,” Caraco explained. “Then, if you happen to be exposed to the real coronavirus, the immunological response that was triggered by the vaccine will prevent infection.” Most standard vaccines, such as the measles vaccine, expose the immune system to a weakened version of the antigen, which teaches it to recognize and kill the disease. Novel mRNA vaccines, on the other hand, use a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected, enters the cells and sparks production of the viral components that subsequently train the immune system to fight the virus. Because the BriLife vaccine presents the immune system with a somewhat more complete version of the spike protein, this may allow the immune system an opportunity to see more targets on the spike protein and therefore target more things on the virus – making it more effective against variants. (JPost / VFI News)
BENNETT SAYS NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS WITH IRAN TALKS, WE’LL DEFEND OURSELVES: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stressed that Israel would defend itself, no matter what happens in the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, during a visit to an exercise being carried out by the IDF in northern Israel on Tuesday, November 16.
“We are surrounded by security challenges and the goal is to take advantage of periods of relative quiet to build strength. Therefore, we are preparing for various scenarios, both near and far,” said Bennett. “We are dealing with Iran and its affiliates in Lebanon and Syria. No matter what happens between Iran and the superpowers, and we are certainly concerned about the fact that there is not enough toughness in the face of Iranian violations, Israel will defend itself, on its own.” During the visit, Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that “we are of course following everything happening on all fronts.” “We are currently seeing Iran’s policy within Iran in the nuclear context, as well as its strengthening outside Iran, and its influence in Syria and Lebanon,” added Gantz. “The world must act against Iran and Israel must continue to do what it needs in every front in general and in the northern front in particular.” Last week, the IDF began a drill in northern Israel, as part of which reservists in the 36th Division, also known as the Ga’ash Formation, were called up. About 3,000 soldiers from the Golani Brigade, Armored Corps, Artillery, and Reserve Brigades, along with Intelligence and the Air Force, took part in the drill. “We found here a very cohesive and trained system that is gaining more and more capabilities, and I am very happy with what we have seen here,” said Gantz about the drill. “The state budget has been approved and this is especially important for the IDF, which can properly plan its resources, train continuously and intensively and invest everything it needs in preparing for the next war,” said Bennett. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN RESTARTS NUKE PARTS PRODUCTION AT FACILITY MOSSAD ACCUSED OF BLOWING UP: Iran has resumed production of equipment for advanced centrifuges at the Karaj nuclear site that it accused the Mossad of blowing up in June, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, November 16.
The report cited Western diplomatic sources who expressed concern that Iran could start to secretly divert advanced centrifuges to undeclared sites if it wished to clandestinely move closer to a nuclear weapon. Centrifuges enrich uranium for potentially making a nuclear weapon, and some of Iran’s more advanced models can speed up that process by a rate of four to five times compared to older models. These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the IAEA admitted in September that it has been blind to what is going on at Karaj since June because of the Islamic Republic’s refusal to grant the nuclear inspectors access to the site or explain what happened to the monitoring cameras. Although Tehran has claimed that postponing IAEA access relates to its investigation of the June sabotage attack in which the site was attacked by a drone, allegedly directed by the Mossad, IAEA Director-General Rafel Grossi has already said in September that such an explanation no longer holds water. Former prime minister Ehud Barak has expressed concern that with a newly growing supply of 60% enriched uranium and advanced centrifuges, it would be easier to hide aspects of the nuclear program than in the past when a bigger space was needed for a much larger number of less advanced centrifuges to enrich lower quality uranium. Former Mossad director Yossi Cohen has also expressed concerns about Iran’s ability to make clandestine moves and that any return of the US to a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic would require much stricter controls over the nuclear program. The Western diplomats quoted said there was no sign that Iran was trying to break out faster with a nuclear weapon, but it was unclear how they would know if Tehran tried to do so clandestinely. (JPost / VFI News)
IRANIAN PRESIDENT CLAIMS COUNTRY’S FROZEN ASSETS ABROAD WERE RELEASED: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that Iran now has access to its resources in other countries, during a session in the Iranian parliament on Tuesday, November 16, according to the Fars News Agency.
“In the beginning, the government had problems with selling oil, but now the situation has improved and I can only say that the government has access to its resources in other countries,” said Raisi. The president did not provide any further details. The announcement comes just days after Ali Naderi, the managing director of Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), tweeted that over $3.5 billion of Iran’s blocked resources had been released by one of the countries holding them. Naderi added that a “significant portion” of the now unblocked resources were entering Iran’s trade cycle. The IRNA CEO did not specify which country had released the resources. (JPost / VFI News)
TECHNION RESEARCHERS MAKE BREAKTHROUGH IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RESEARCH: Researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) developed a molecule that could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease, according to a report published in the Angewandte Chemie last week.
One cause of this neurodegenerative disease is an excess of copper ions within cells. When oxidizing agents called free radicals are formed by the copper and amyloid-beta complex Cu–Aβ, damage may be caused to brain cells. However, removing the copper breaks this substance down, preventing cell death and inhibiting the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.Copper is separated from the amyloid by introducing molecules that bind the copper ions, a process known as chelation. This can be difficult as the molecules must be stable and resistant to oxidation-reduction reactions. They also must not bind zinc ions because these are necessary for normal brain functioning and binding them will prevent the molecules from binding copper. The artificial molecule developed by the researchers, called P3, can bind copper, forming CuP3, and remove the copper from the amyloid, thereby inhibiting the formation of harmful oxidizing agents. One caveat is the molecule binds zinc as well, but the bond is relatively weak and causes the zinc-amyloid complex to be unstable; therefore, P3 mostly binds copper. These findings, by Professor Galia Maayan and doctoral student Anastasia Behar of the Technion’s Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, as well as Prof. Christelle Hureau from the Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination du CNRS, Toulouse, France, break new ground in research toward the treatment of Alzheimer’s, a debilitating disease with no known cure. (JPost / VFI News)
HELLENIST FORTRESS DESTROYED BY HASMONEANS UNCOVERED: Weapons, burnt wooden beams, dozens of coins, and a Hellenistic fortified structure—tangible evidence of a battle between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids some 2,100 years ago—are currently being unearthed in Israel Antiquities Authority excavations in Lachish Forest.
The excavations are being conducted as part of the Kings of Judah Road project, in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund, funded by the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, assisted by high-school students majoring in the Ministry of Education’s Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology program, and students from the Asher Ruach Bo pre-military program in Mitzpe Ramon for youths at risk. According to Saar Ganor, Vladik Lifshits, and Ahinoam Montagu, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The excavation site provides tangible evidence of the Hanukkah stories. It appears that we have discovered a building that was part of a fortified line erected by the Hellenistic army commanders to protect the large Hellenistic city of Maresha from a Hasmonean offensive. However, the finds from the site show that the Seleucid defenses were unsuccessful; the excavated building was badly burnt and devastated by the Hasmoneans.” The excavation revealed a 15 × 15 m building planned as a well-fortified unit. The external walls, no less than 3 m wide, were built of large stones and had a sloping outer glacis to prevent the wall from being scaled. The inside of the structure was divided into seven rooms, preserved to an exceptional height of roughly 2 m. The excavation uncovered a stairwell leading to a second floor, which was not preserved. The building is estimated to have been about 5 m high. The site lies on the summit of a high hill commanding a view of the ancient main road, which ran along the Nahal Lachish streambed and connected the coastal plain to the central highland ridge. The building overlooks Maresha, the largest Hellenistic city in the area and the capital of Idumea in the Hellenistic period. (i365 / VFI News)
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Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff