Western nations decry Iran space launch; US levies sanctions

Iran test fired the Simorgh space rocket launched at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in the central Iranian province of Semnan on July 27, 2017. Photo: Iran Defense Ministry

 The United States punished Iran on Friday for launching a satellite-carrying rocket into space by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions targeting the country’s ballistic missiles program.
Three European nations that helped broker the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2015 joined the U.S. in condemning the launch, and said it was too close for comfort to the type of intercontinental ballistic missiles used to deliver a nuclear payload. At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Iran was “breaking its obligation” and added, “We can’t trust them.”
“Under this administration, the United States will not let Iran off the hook for behavior that threatens our interests and our allies,” Haley said. “We will continue to impose consequences until Iran stops its provocations and complies fully with Security Council resolutions.”
The U.S. sanctions hit six Iranian subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, described by the Treasury Department as “central” to Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cast the sanctions as part of an ongoing U.S. effort to aggressively oppose Iran’s ballistic missile activity, including what he called a “provocative space launch” carried out by the Islamic Republic on Thursday.
In another allegation against the U.S. adversary, Mnuchin said that missile attacks on U.S. partner Saudi Arabia over the weekend by Houthi rebels in Yemen had likely come with the support of Iran. The U.S. has long accused Tehran of shipping weapons to the Houthis, a Shiite group that controls part of Yemen and is being fought by a Saudi-led coalition.
The sanctions came a day after Iran successfully launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, in what was likely a major advancement for the country’s space program. The “Simorgh” rocket is capable of carrying a satellite weighing 550 pounds (250 kilograms), Iran state television said.
The U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center said in a report released last month that the Simorgh could act as a test bed for developing the technologies needed to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.
In a joint statement, the U.S., Britain, Germany and France called the launch “inconsistent” with the U.N. Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal, adding that such activities destabilize the region. The grouping represented all of the Western nations that are part of the nuclear deal, which also includes Russia, China and the European Union.
“We condemn this action,” the countries said. “We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities.”
Yet beyond the U.S. sanctions, it was unclear what, if anything, the group could do to increase pressure quickly on Tehran. Notably, the nations stopped short of saying the launch had “violated” the U.N. resolution, saying only that it was “inconsistent” with the text. That’s because the resolution calls upon, but doesn’t oblige, Iran to refrain from ballistic missile development.
Yet Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pushed back on any suggestion his country had done anything wrong by launching the satellite into space. He said Friday that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and drew a contrast with the U.S., accusing Washington of not complying with “the letter and spirit” of the deal.
“Rhetoric and actions from the U.S. show bad faith,” Zarif said.
He also rejected the notion that Iran was working to develop missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead.
“Iran is not and will not be developing nuclear weapons; so by definition cannot develop anything designed to be capable of delivering them,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Britain, Germany and France also said they were raising their concerns directly to the Islamic Republic. Despite brokering the nuclear deal, the U.S. doesn’t maintain regular diplomatic relations with Iran.
The U.S. penalties reflect an attempt by President Donald Trump’s administration to show it’s staying tough on Iran even though Trump has yet to scrap the 2015 nuclear agreement, despite threatening to do so as a candidate and labelling it a bad deal.
Under Trump, like under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has continued to sanction Iran for nonnuclear behavior such as ballistic missile activity that isn’t explicitly covered under the nuclear deal. Trump’s administration has also been pushing for inspections of sensitive Iranian military sites where U.S intelligence agencies believe Iran may be conducting illicit activity prohibited by the nuclear pact.
The six entities being sanctioned contribute to Iran’s liquid propellant ballistic missiles, the Treasury Department said, including development and manufacturing of engines, launchers, guide-and-control systems and ground support as well as the liquid propellant itself. The sanctions freeze any assets the entities may have in the U.S. and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

Walmart Holds Open Call 2017, 500 Made in USA Companies Compete for Store Shelf Space

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Recently, 500 companies — mostly small businesses and startups — went to Walmart (NYSE:WMT) company headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to pitch their products to company buyers.

If they’re selected, they’ll get to sell their products at Walmart stores and on the retailers website. It could mean huge growth for those small companies. But there are challenges involved as well.

This is the fourth Open Call event Walmart has held.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

This year, Walmart is specifically looking for American companies and is promoting American manufacturing. So companies that sell products that are made in America could have a good chance of getting their products placed in Walmart stores or even getting the opportunity to manufacture some of Walmart’s private label products.

Walmart Open Call 2017

Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing said in a statement, “While finding products our customers want is a year-round focus for our buying teams, Walmart’s annual Open Call is a special opportunity to connect our buyers with companies that are manufacturing products in the U.S. and to identify new and unique product solutions.”

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

American manufacturing has been experiencing a resurgence in some sectors. So this type of open call allows Walmart to potentially tap into some interesting new markets while also taking advantage of some of the positive public perception that often comes with supplying American-made products and supporting job growth and the U.S. economy.

But for the businesses in attendance, the opportunity could be even more significant.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. So getting products featured on store shelves or on Walmart.com could provide a huge sales boost.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

And the significance of that opportunity was not lost on the small businesses in attendance, some of which went to extra lengths to put on a great presentation for their products.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

In fact, nearly 100 companies received deals on the spot. And dozens more will continue to have conversations with Walmart about future opportunities.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

The companies that receive deals from Walmart could also gain some local notoriety and extra coverage for their participation.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Overall, this type of event provides a unique opportunity for small businesses, many of which face major roadblocks in getting their products in front of large retailers or corporations.

Of course, this also means that those small businesses that receive deals will need to step up production in order to meet that increased demand. But for the businesses that can take on the extra work, it’s a potentially huge opportunity.


Amazon Drive Kills Unlimited Cloud Storage Plan, Now Offers 1TB Space for $60 Per Year

Amazon Drive Kills Unlimited Cloud Storage Plan, Now Offers 1TB Space for $60 Per Year

Amazon unlimited storage plan has been killed off
New plans are effective today
All users with unlimited storage plan can use it full term as is
One of the most lucrative things Amazon Drive offered was an unlimited cloud storage plan for as low as $60 (roughly Rs. 3,800) per year. However, the company has now revised its plans to cancel unlimited storage abilities, and instead offer just 1TB for the same amount. The maximum cap of storage capacity is up to 30TB now with additional $60 levied per TB – which goes to a neat $1,800 (roughly Rs. 1,15,700) for 30TB.

Essentially, Amazon Drive has aped Apple iCloud’s pricing and is offering the same as the Cupertino giant per terabyte. Just a few days ago, Apple revised its 2TB plan to $120 (roughly Rs. 7,700) per year, the pricing that earlier applied to 1TB. Beyond 2TB though, Amazon is still the cheapest of the lot, with Google Drive charging as much as $3,600 (roughly Rs. 231,400) per year for 30TB. Amazon notes that all Prime members will still get the benefit of unlimited photo storage (keyword photo), and all new Drive members will get up to 5GB of storage space free (again just like Apple, however Google Drive leads the lot with 15GB of free drive storage).
The starting plan is at $12 (roughly Rs. 800) for one year for 100GB of storage. There is no 50GB and 200GB plan like how Apple offers. You can check all the new pricing for Amazon Drive here.

Amazon notes that current Drive customers will keep their existing unlimited storage plan through its expiration date. At the end of their existing subscription, customers with auto-renew turned on and 1TB or less of data stored will be renewed into the 1TB plan for $60 per year. Customers with auto-renew off, or who have more than 1TB of data stored, will need to visit their account’s Manage Storage page to opt in to one of the new plans.

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Consider These Tips When Picking Your First Office Space

Choosing an office isn’t just a matter of taking the nearest available real estate. Here are some tips for finding an office space, especially your first.

No matter what business you’re in, choosing a first-rate office is important. When your work location allows you to focus on tasks, meet clients with confidence, and project a professional image all at the same time, it’s easier to achieve results that can help you take your business up a notch.

However, choosing an office isn’t just a matter of taking the nearest available real estate space. Many factors need to be considered for your property investment to pay off and lower the chances you’ll pick a space that doesn’t fit your needs to a T. For that, you can refer to the tips below.

Tips for Finding an Office Space

Plan Your Business Needs to the Last Detail

By knowing your business needs inside and out, you can narrow down your office space options in no time. Before you decide to bring your business to the nearest center of entrepreneurial activity, ask these questions first:

  • What are the tools, equipment and peripherals you need, at the least?
  • How many employees do you have, if any?
  • How much space do you need to accommodate your equipment and employees?
  • What other amenities, other than the bare essentials, should the office be able to accommodate?
  • Does the office have a space where you can meet clients and other visitors?
  • Is the office conducive to work? Is it free of noise, glare and unpleasant smells? If not, what can you do to make it better?
  • Do you foresee having to expand your space? If so, when do you expect it to happen?
  • Can you afford to pay for the office, regardless of your level of income and expenses? Your benchmark value should be the difference between your lowest projected income and highest projected expenses.
  • Is the location as accessible as possible for you, your employees, your partner companies and your target clients/customers?

If it’s challenging to answer these questions at the moment, try to visualize what your business will be like once it’s up and running. After all, a TD Bank survey says that 76 percent of business owners credit their success to the use of visualization techniques.

One technique you can use is the mind map. Essentially, the mind map starts with one central idea that branches out into several interrelated ideas. For example, you can write the word “business” on a board, encircle it, draw lines emanating from the circle connected to phrases like “location,” “employees” and “equipment” and so on and so forth. The idea is to make a clear yet comprehensive visual model that helps you pin down every possible consideration for choosing an office space.

Mobilize Your Real Estate Team ASAP

Of course, purchasing office space isn’t like plucking SPAM off a Wal-Mart shelf and checking out with the cashier. You have documents to prepare, papers to sign and landlords to negotiate with. It can be hard to handle all this, unless you have a team of experts to help you.

In particular, a real estate broker who specializes in corporate properties can be invaluable. Because they have a thorough understanding of your business needs, brokers can connect you with the owners of properties most suitable to your needs. Plus, if you’re lucky to land a tenant broker, you can cut back on costs since those types of brokers are typically compensated by landlords.

You’ll also need a lawyer who’s experienced with real estate matters. A lawyer can help you iron out any kinks in your lease contract, and ensure that the terms and conditions are as favorable to you as possible. Speaking of which …

Consider Leasing

Unless you have millions of dollars in extra cash, it wouldn’t be practical to purchase your own property outright. That’s why most startup owners prefer to lease instead.

Aside from lower upfront expenses, leasing also lightens the pressure to compensate for your property investment ASAP. The cost of an upfront purchase can take at least seven years to recoup, while a lease contract can last from two to three years. Essentially, leases grant you more flexibility in case your business grows faster or slower than anticipated. Lease payments can also be used as tax deductions, which translates to lower expenses during the life of your business.

Be aware that there are different types of leases you can take advantage of, as follows:

  • Net Lease. Aside from your monthly rent, you also pay a portion of expenses such as taxes, insurance and maintenance.
  • Double Net Lease. Your lease is equal to the sum of your rent, taxes and insurance.
  • Triple Net Lease. Your lease is equal to the sum of your rent, taxes, insurance and maintenance.
  • Gross/Fully Serviced/Fixed Lease. Your landlord pays most or all of your operating expenses, though a portion of these may be passed on to you as a “load factor.”

Again, be sure to consult a lawyer for any vaguely worded provisions in your lease. These contracts are often skewed heavily in the landlord’s favor, so it’s important every term and condition is clear to you.

Consider Shared Office Spaces

You don’t have to shoulder the lease by yourself. If there are other tenants who lease the same office space, you can divvy up your expenses with them. And if those tenants are engaged in businesses complementary to yours, you can also establish strategic partnerships that will benefit everyone involved.

Have a Backup Plan

It’s possible that, even after careful consideration, your choice of office space may not be the best one after all. To offset any frustrations you might have with that arrangement, choose up to five possible offices that meet most or all of your criteria. Any more than five and you’ll end up with what is known as analysis paralysis, or the inability to make decisions due to the overabundance of choices.

With these tips, you should be able to construct a general plan for choosing an ideal office space.

Office Photo via Shutterstock