Posts Tagged ‘Iran’s Parliament’

Iran’s Parliament increases funding for missiles after U.S. sanctions — Lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

August 13, 2017

AFP

© Atta Kenare, AFP | Members of Iran’s Armed Forces attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-08-13

Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to allocate $520 million to develop its missile programme to fight Washington’s “adventurism” and sanctions, and to boost the foreign operations of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The Americans should know that this was our first action,” said speaker Ali Larijani, after announcing an overwhelming majority vote for a package “to confront terrorist and adventurist actions by the United States in the region”.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, out of the 244 parliamentarians present.

The vote came after fresh US sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran’s missile programme.

“The bill is backed by the foreign ministry and the government and is part of measures by the JCPOA supervision committee to confront the recent US Congress law,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi.

He was referring to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known officially as the JCPOA, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

The bill mandates the government to allocate an additional $260 million for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to the Revolutionary Guards’s foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said.

After Larijani announced the vote results, lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

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Iran’s Intelligence Ministry detains members of a group linked to the Islamic State

June 24, 2017

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s Intelligence Ministry is saying that its forces have detained members of a group linked to the Islamic State group it says intended to carry out terrorist acts in holy cities across the country.

The ministry says its forces confiscated three Kalashnikov rifles, night vision goggles, three suicide belts, three phones for remote detonation, a large amount of bullets and other technical tools for making bombs, in a statement issued Saturday.

The report did not elaborate on the number of people detained, or where the arrests took place.

Five attackers linked to IS stormed Iran’s parliament and a shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini this month, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 50.

Iran election campaign kicks off after Ahmadinejad excluded by supreme leader

April 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Eric RANDOLPH and Ali NOORANI | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gestures to the camera after registering to run for re-election in Tehran on April 14, 2017

TEHRAN (AFP) –  Campaigning began on Friday for Iran’s presidential election with incumbent Hassan Rouhani facing a tough battle against hardliners, though not from former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was barred from standing.

Ahmadinejad’s disqualification by the conservative-run Guardian Council was no surprise — he had been advised not to run by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said it would “polarise” the nation.

Ahmadinejad’s populist economics and defiant attitude to the establishment had alienated even his hardline backers during his tenure between 2005 and 2013.

“Once the supreme leader had told him not to stand, it became impossible for him to be cleared by the Guardian Council,” said Clement Therme, research fellow for Iran at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“By his second term, (Ahmadinejad) was even challenging the clerics. He was not useful anymore for the system.”

The mood in Tehran has been subdued — many are disillusioned with Rouhani’s failure to kick-start the economy despite broad support for his efforts to rebuild ties with the West, notably through a nuclear deal with world powers that ended many sanctions.

The election commission ruled on Thursday that live TV debates would be banned, without giving a reason — a decision criticised by Rouhani and other candidates.

Campaigning, which the Guardian Council announced could begin immediately, had not been supposed to start for another week, so little activity was expected on Friday.

But experts say the authorities are keen to excite interest in the vote.

“They need that for legitimacy — the turnout is even more important than the result,” said Therme.

Iran’s elections are tightly controlled, with the Guardian Council allowing just six people — and no women — to stand for the May 19 vote out of 1,636 hopefuls that registered last week.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, a run-off between the top two is held a week later.

Rouhani, a politically moderate cleric, squeaked to victory last time with 51 percent in the first round, helped by a divided conservative camp.

The Guardian Council has resisted efforts by Iran’s parliament, the Majles, to clarify the criteria by which they choose candidates.

The constitution adopted after the 1979 revolution offers only vague guidelines that candidates should possess “administrative capacity and resourcefulness… trustworthiness and piety”.

– Hardline competition –

The build-up to the vote has injected more interest than many predicted just a couple of months ago, when Rouhani was seen as a shoo-in for a second term if only because the conservative opposition seemed unable to offer a strong candidate.

Since then, the 56-year-old former judge and cleric Ebrahim Raisi has emerged as a front-runner for the conservatives.

Little-known on the political scene, Raisi runs a powerful religious foundation and business empire in the holy city of Mashhad and is seen as a close ally of — and possible successor to — supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But despite emphasising his care for the poor, many say Raisi’s hardline judicial background and entourage will turn off voters.

“He seems like a good and calm person himself, but the people around him are scary,” said a tour operator in Yazd, echoing a widely heard sentiment.

Some think he may drop out at the last minute in favour of Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who came second to Rouhani in 2013.

Ghalibaf is a war veteran, former Revolutionary Guards commander and police chief — and could be the preferred choice of powerful backroom hardliners.

The other three candidates have been less prominent so far.

They include two moderate reformists, Mostafa Hashemitaba and vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri, and a veteran hardliner Mostafa Mirsalim — a selection that appears designed to give an even balance to moderates and hardliners in the upcoming debates.

– ‘Took risks’ –

There were mixed reactions to Ahmadinejad’s disqualification.

Despite controversial rhetoric against Israel that worsened ties with the West, and somewhat reckless financial management, he retained considerable popularity, particularly among the poor.

“I think Ahmadinejad should not have been disqualified,” said Mohammad Barkhordar, 20, doing his military service.

“He was the kind of president that took risks, like distributing money among people and giving houses to the poor, and he had big ambitions for Iran’s nuclear programme. Rouhani doesn’t take any risks.”

But many were glad to see the back of him.

“It was right for Ahmadinejad to be disqualified but it happened 12 years too late,” said one Twitter user.

by Eric RANDOLPH and Ali NOORANI

Moderates, Reformists Win Key Iran Election Races

February 29, 2016

Results indicate repudiation to hard-line opponents of landmark nuclear deal

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Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani may get the support he needs to pass social and political reforms

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Updated Feb. 29, 2016 9:32 a.m. ET

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TEHRAN—Moderates and reformists close to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have won key seats in Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts, dealing a setback to hard-lines opposed the Iranian leaders’ policy of more openness to the West.

In the first parliamentary election since Mr. Rouhani’s government reached a nuclear deal in July with the U.S. and other world powers, moderates and reformists took all 30 of Tehran’s seats in the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis, state television reported Monday.

In contests for the powerful Assembly of Experts, which will pick a successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the same moderate-reformist bloc also won all but one of the capital’s 16 seats to the 88-member body.

Moderate candidates have won 15 of the 16 seats in an election for Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the 88-member clerical body that will elect a successor to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Getty Images.

The outcome from races outside Tehran and other Iranian cities was still being assessed, but there were preliminary indications that the bloc performed well there, too. If so, the Mr. Rouhani would have a parliamentary majority—a huge blow to opponents of the nuclear accord.

The ballot was seen as a referendum on President Rouhani, who staked his government’s success on achieving the nuclear accord and ending Iran’s isolation abroad. Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told state television that about 34 million of Iran’s 55 million eligible voters—or 62%—cast ballots on Friday, down slightly from 63.9% in parliamentary elections in 2012.

Iran has reached a historic agreement with major world powers over its nuclear program. What is Iran giving up, and how does it benefit in the long run? And what are supporters and critics of the deal saying? WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains.

An Iranian man holds a copy of the daily Shargh newspaper with a headline reading “Decisive victory for the reformist” in Tehran, 28 Feb.
An Iranian man holds a copy of the daily Shargh newspaper with a headline reading “Decisive victory for the reformist” in Tehran, 28 Feb. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Write to Asa Fitch at asa.fitch@wsj.com

Read the rest:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/moderates-win-majority-in-tehran-in-iranian-elections-1456736113

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Iran Vote Still Being Counted But It Looks Like Allies of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Have Won all of Tehran’s Parliamentary Seats

February 28, 2016

Reformist candidates in Iran appear set to win all 30 seats in the capital, Tehran. Such a result would be a resounding vote of confidence for President Rouhani, who struck a nuclear deal with world powers last year.

Allies of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have won all of Tehran’s parliamentary seats, according to initial results carried by state television on Sunday. The tally is based on around 90 percent of votes counted in the capital – a key battleground.

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Around 33 million people cast ballots in Friday’s vote to elect parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for choosing the next supreme leader. Both bodies have traditionally been controlled by hardliners close to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But the extent of Rouhani’s gains in Tehran suggest the parliament may soon be more receptive to his plans to open Iran up to foreign trade and improve relations with the West.

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“The people showed their power once again and gave more credibility and strength to their elected government,” Rouhani said, adding he would work with lawmakers to build a future for the oil-exporting country.
Should the initial tally for Tehran be confirmed, it would mean the pro-Rouhani List of Hope, led by reformist Mohammad Reza Aref, would unseat leading conservative candidate Gholamali Haddad Adel. It would also see all eight women on the List of Hope elected.

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Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani may get the support he needs to pass social and political reforms

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No clear majority

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More than 4,800 candidates are vying for the 290 seats in Iran’s parliament. But while the reformists have made impressive gains in Tehran, they haven’t fared as well in the provinces. None of Iran’s main political groups – reformists, conservatives or hardliners – are expected to win a majority in the assembly.

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The outcome of the vote is being seen as a de-facto referendum on President Rouhani, a political moderate, who successfully steered Iran towards a landmark nuclear deal with world powers last year, lifting sanctions that have stifled economic growth.

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According to Foad Izadi, a politics professor at Tehran University’s Faculty of World Studies, the nuclear agreement and the removal of sanctions were major factors behind the reformists’ advances in Tehran.
“The reformists gained 30 percent and independent candidates did better than before, gaining 20 percent,” he said. “It is a sweeping victory for Tehran but for other cities it is not yet clear cut. It is beyond expectations.”

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Final election results are expected in the next few days.

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nm/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/reformers-on-track-to-take-all-tehran-seats-in-iran-elections/a-19080210

Iran parliament bars key nuclear concessions in talks with big powers — Nuclear Deal Called “Fatally Flawed”

June 23, 2015

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) – Iran’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday banning access for U.N. inspectors to its military sites and scientists, potentially complicating chances for a nuclear accord with world powers as a self-imposed June 30 deadline approaches.

Two major stumbling blocks to a deal have been disputes over how much transparency Iran should offer to ease suspicions that it has covertly sought to develop nuclear bombs, and the timing and pace of relief from sanctions imposed on Tehran.

France has spearheaded the powers’ demand that Iran grant unfettered U.N. access to military bases — where Western officials believe Iran has conducted nuclear bomb research — as part of any final settlement that would curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for a phase-out of sanctions.

The legislation prohibiting any such access, as well as stipulating that all sanctions be lifted as soon as a nuclear accord takes effect, was approved by 214 of 244 lawmakers present on Tuesday, state television reported.

The powers say sanctions can be dismantled only gradually to reward Iranian compliance with various aspects of an agreement.

State TV said the bill allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency solely to inspect Iran’s nuclear installations under its existing Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

“But it bans any inspection of military, security and non-nuclear sites as well as access to documents and scientists.”

The bill must still pass through the Guardian Council, an unelected, hardline watchdog body close to clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all important matters of state, before becoming law.

KHAMENEI SAYS MILITARY SITES OFF LIMITS

Khamenei has publicly voiced trust in his negotiating team but, echoing hardline Iranian military commanders, also ruled out inspections of military sites and interviews with nuclear scientists that the IAEA has long called for.

Iran has long said it is enriching uranium solely for civilian nuclear energy, and suggested that unlimited IAEA inspection powers would be abused by Western intelligence to glean Iranian security secrets.

Parliament’s intervention could pressure Iranian negotiators striving to clinch a deal that could usher in a cautious detente with the West after years of mounting confrontation that threatened a wider Middle East war.

Some senior Iranian negotiators had raised the possibility of some limited IAEA access to non-nuclear sites, albeit with Iranian officials present to control process.

The bill also obliges Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s top negotiator, to report to parliament every six months on the process of implementing the accord.

“The government must preserve Iran’s nuclear rights and achievements … Any deal reached by the government with the powers must be approved by parliament,” state TV said.

But the official news agency IRNA quoted government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as saying that provision in the bill was “unconstitutional” as the Islamic Republic’s defense and security policies were not the province of parliament.

Zarif said on Monday he saw a good chance of reaching a final agreement by June 30 or a few days later, provided there was political will to do so.

Britain said Iran had to show more flexibility and the powers could not compromise on red lines including enhanced IAEA access to ensure any accord is verifiable.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S main pitch for the pending nuclear deal with Iranis that it would extend the “breakout time” necessary for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. In a recent interview with NPR, he said that the current breakout time is “about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.” By contrast, he claimed, the pending deal would shrink Iran’s nuclear program, so that if Iran later “decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond.”

Unfortunately, that claim is false, as can be demonstrated with basic science and math. By my calculations, Iran’s actual breakout time under the deal would be approximately three months — not over a year. Thus, the deal would be unlikely to improve the world’s ability to react to a sudden effort by Iran to build a bomb.

Breakout time is determined by three primary factors: the number and type of centrifuges; the enrichment of the starting material; and the amount of enriched uranium required for a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama seems to make rosy assumptions about all three.

Most important, in the event of an overt attempt by Iran to build a bomb, Mr. Obama’s argument assumes that Iran would employ only the 5,060 centrifuges that the deal would allow for uranium enrichment, not the roughly 14,000 additional centrifuges that Iran would be permitted to keep mainly for spare parts. Such an assumption is laughable. In a real-world breakout, Iran would race, not crawl, to the bomb.

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/23/opinion/the-iran-deals-fatal-flaw.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

Republican senator: Democrats ‘procedurally blocked’ new Iran sanctions bill

November 21, 2013

By Michael Wilner

Senator implies sanction legislation on hold for time being; Obama says first-step deal will give Iran only limited sanctions relief.

US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama  Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON — The highest-ranking Republican member of the Senate  Foreign Relations Committee is accusing Democrats of blocking progress on a bill  that would further sanction Iran for its continued nuclear  work.

“Democrats have procedurally blocked the Senate from taking any  action on Iran this week,” Bob Corker (R-Tenn), said in a statement. “As such,  we will closely monitor what happens in Geneva and examine the details of any  interim deal.”

The comments politicize an issue often treated as bipartisan on  Capitol Hill. Both Democrats and Republicans have called on the White House to  restrict its concessions to Iran as much as possible in the negotiating process,  and have disagreed only over the timing of the new sanctions language, which  would ruthlessly target Iran’s remaining oil exports and access to foreign  exchange reserves.

Corker’s comments come just after a meeting with US  President Barack Obama at the White House, and as a delegation of US diplomats  is in transit to Switzerland, where they will try and cut an interim agreement  with Iran that would include limited sanctions relief.

Obama personally lobbied key members of the  Senate on Tuesday not to move forward with new sanctions legislation against  Iran, just a day before the third round of negotiations were set to begin in  Geneva

The  meeting came shortly after Iranian parliamentarians warned that, should new  sanctions proceed through the US Congress, Iran would pull its diplomats from  the negotiating table.

The long, detailed White House meeting focused on  the technicalities of the prospective “first step” deal being forged in  Switzerland between Iran and the P5+1 – the United States, the United Kingdom,  Russia, China, France and Germany – and not on rising tensions between the White  House and Israel’s government over how best to proceed.

“The president  underscored that, in the absence of a first step, Iran will continue to make  progress on its nuclear program by increasing its enrichment capacity,  continuing to grow its stockpile of enriched uranium, installing advanced  centrifuges, and making progress on the plutonium track,” White House Spokesman  Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing.

In a prepared statement released  after the meeting, the White House said that the discussion, which lasted over  two hours, had included a lengthy explanation by the president as to why a  six-month interim agreement – temporarily halting key aspects of Iran’s nuclear  program in exchange for marginal sanctions relief – was in the US’s best  national security interests.

“The president noted that the relief we are  considering as part of a first step would be limited, temporary and reversible,  and emphasized that we will continue to enforce sanctions during the six-month  period,” the statement read.

“The president is determined to prevent Iran  from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and firmly believes that it would be preferable  to do so peacefully,” it continued.

“Therefore, he has a responsibility  to pursue the ongoing diplomatic negotiations before pursuing other  alternatives.”

According to the statement, Obama “dispelled the rumors  that Iran would receive $40 billion or $50b. in relief, noting those reports are  inaccurate” – a reference to figures first floated by Intelligence Minister  Yuval Steinitz last week.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, told CNN on Tuesday the amount of Iranian assets that would be unfrozen under the deal with Iran would be less than $10 billion.

“We’re talking about a modest amount of money,” she said.

Obama injected a note of caution on the prospect of closing a deal with Iran, telling a Wall Street Journal forum on Tuesday that, “We don’t know if we’ll be able to close a deal with Iran this week or next week.”

After meeting with the president, Senator  Corker implied that any new legislative push was on hold for the time  being.

“Let’s face it,” Corker said to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “At the end of  the day, there aren’t going to be new sanctions put in place” before Geneva. And  “Senator [Harry] Reid has filled the tree,” he said, describing the Senate  majority leader’s ability to prevent new amendments from getting floor time for  consideration.

“Congress has no say on the easing of sanctions,” Corker  added. “The president has full waiver authority.”

Senator Mark Kirk announced Tuesday evening that he will pursue an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act with fellow Republicans this week that would include the sanctions language, bucking the White House. But it’s unclear whether Reid will allow that to happen.

One source familiar  with the legislation told The Jerusalem Post that if negotiators clinched an  interim deal this weekend, progress on the new sanctions bill was “unlikely”  before December of this year – if at all.

But that has not stopped  lawmakers in both chambers from urging the Obama administration to toughen the  deal going into talks on Wednesday.

A bipartisan group of senators, many  of whom met with the president on Tuesday, wrote to US Secretary of State John  Kerry that the deal under consideration in Geneva allowed up to $10b.

in  sanctions relief – too high a price for too few concessions, they  asserted.

“While the interim agreement may suggest that Iran could be  willing to temporarily slow its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, it  could also allow Iran to continue making some progress toward that end under the  cover of negotiations,” the senators wrote. “This does not give us confidence  that Iran is prepared to abandon unambiguously its nuclear weapons pursuit  altogether, as it must.”

The group included senators Robert Menendez,  John McCain, Bob Casey and Charles Schumer, among others.

At the House of  Representatives – which already passed its version of the sanctions bill last  summer – congressmen Ed Royce (R-California), who chairs the House Foreign  Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel (D-New York), ranking member of the  committee, sent a letter to the president on Tuesday cautioning against a deal  that would allow Iran to continue progressing in its nuclear program in any  capacity.

“Mr. President, the United States cannot allow Iran to continue  to advance toward a nuclear weapons capability while at the same time providing  relief from the sanctions pressure we worked so hard to build, and the  Administration has worked to enforce,” the congressmen wrote.

In his  interview with CNN, Corker said the administration did not see the deal as a  “fait accompli” going into talks, describing the interim agreement as far from  certain.

Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman  flew to Geneva on Tuesday to lead the US negotiating team.

Her first  meeting on Wednesday will be with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, the  State Department said.

Responding to concerns aired repeatedly and  publicly by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the Geneva deal is shaping up  poorly for Israel, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that it was his  “prerogative” to express his opinion as negotiations continued.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

“I think  you can both respect concerns and also disagree with them,” Psaki said. “I  certainly don’t refute the notion that there’s a difference of  opinion….

One of the reasons we’re pursuing this is because of Israel’s  security.”

Psaki said that US diplomats entering the third round of talks  were “hopeful about the path forward.”

“There’s either a diplomatic path,  or a path toward aggression.

We continue to believe that,” she said. “If  this does not work, we will be leading the charge for more  sanctions.”

Meanwhile, in Tehran, Iranian Jews demonstrated Tuesday outside a United Nations facility in support of Iran’s declared right to  peaceful nuclear energy, as protected by the Nuclear Non-proliferation  Treaty.

“Jews from all Iranian Jewish communities, especially from  Tehran, will take part in this gathering to show their solidarity with the  Islamic Republic of Iran’s stances in the recent talks, especially the issues  proposed to Group 5+1,” said Siamak Marreh Sedq, representative of the Jewish  minority in Iran’s Parliament, in announcing the rally.

The Post could  not confirm attendance at the rally.

The US notes that the NPT protects  the right of all nations to peaceful nuclear power, but it objects to Iran’s  claim that the treaty protects Tehran’s right to enrich uranium. Reuters contributed to this report.

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