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'Objective guarantees needed'

Tehran is uncertain whether US President Joe Biden can keep his promise of returning the US to the Iran nuclear deal, and remaining committed to the agreement. The foreign ministry spokesman says Iran will settle for nothing less than objective guarantees from the US that it will live up to its commitments. Saeed Khatibzadeh says Biden needs to convince the international community that he will walk the talk, and that his signature will carry some value. In a joint statement with European leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, Biden assured that the US will quit the nuclear deal only if Iran breaks its terms. That, however, has angered the hawkish US Senator Ted Cruz. He says Biden has zero constitutional authority to make that pledge. Cruz says the deal has not been endorsed by the Senate, and any future Republican president will, in his own words, tear it up again. Iran says Cruz is, in fact, confessing that the White House administrations are rogue.

Taiwan-China tensions

Taiwan is looking to hone the combat skills of its reserve forces next year by providing them with more extensive military training. According to the country's Defense Ministry, mandatory refresher training for some reserve troops will be increased to 14 days, from about a week at present. The reservists will be required to more than double the number of bullets they fire in shooting exercises. Also combat training will be extended to 56 hours, from only half a day at present. Tensions are at a new high between China and Taiwan. Beijing views the island as part of its territory. But Taiwan is seeking independence, and says will defend its sovereignty if there is an armed conflict. Beijing is also at odds with Washington over its military exchanges and contacts with Taiwan.

Nigeria high-rise collapse 

In Lagos, Nigeria's largest and Africa's most populous city, first responders are racing against time to rescue people, who might have survived a tragic building collapse. An under construction multi-story building came crashing down on Monday. Initial reports say six people have lost their lives. The building had 21 stories. Search and rescue operations are right now in progress. So far, rescuers have pulled four people alive, but witnesses say up to 100 others remain trapped under the debris. President Muhammadu Buhari is ordering emergency crews to speed up their efforts. The cause of the incident is so far unknown.



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