Huge blast reported near secret Iran nuclear site; City of Qazvin closed WorldTribune.com, 8 May 14, NICOSIA — Iran has been rocked by huge explosion near a nuclear facility.The Iranian media have reported an explosion in the northern Iranian city of Qazvin. The blast, reported on May 6, was said to have taken place near a secret nuclear enrichment facility in Abyek.
“The explosion took place in a storage facility,” Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which reported at least 50 injured, said.
Officials said nobody was killed in the explosion. But they acknowledged a huge fire that was sweeping the industrial city, about 130 kilometers north of Teheran “Firefighters are trying to prevent the spread of the fire at a car oil storage facility,” Qazvin civil defense director Ali Ahani said.
Iranian opposition sources said scores of people were killed in the blast. They said Iranian Army and security forces closed much of Qazvin,
with a population of 1.1 million.
“It is not certain whether Abyek was the target,” an opposition source said. “But this incident will hamper access to the facility in the short-term.”
The opposition said Iran’s nuclear facilities have been repeatedly
targeted by Israel and the West……..http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/05/07/report-50-injured-blast-iran-nuke-site-storage-facility/
At a meeting at the former American embassy building in central Tehran on Saturday, a newly formed group of MPs and rightwing activists calling itself “We’re Worried” claimed Iran‘s negotiating team was ignoring national interests in the nuclear talks, which resume on 13 May in Vienna.
“The whole nation believes the main intention of the United States is to fully halt the Iranian nuclear programme,” said Fatemeh Alia, a central committee member of the hardline Islamic Revolution Resistance Front, previously allied to the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…….
The US and Britain have expressed guarded confidence that a final nuclear deal with Iran can be reached by the deadline of 20 July, describing the talks as “very substantive”.
Rouhani and his chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have echoed those sentiments. “Iran is optimistic about the results of the talks and has taken great steps to reach a comprehensive deal and aims to achieve a win-win result,” Rouhani told Iranian television last week.
Rouhani hit back angrily at his critics. “Through lies and hype some people are trying to derail the government from its path, and this is against national interests and the leader’s order … Iran does not compromise on the people’s interests,” he said………http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/04/hassan-rouhani-iran-nuclear-talks
|Iran FM says people would support fair nuclear deal, The Daily Star, Lebanon News,|
|April 27, 2014 TEHRAN: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday that the majority of Iranians would support a comprehensive nuclear deal that “respects Iran’s rights and the demands of the people.”
“That would be the only agreement that myself and President (Hassan) Rouhani will agree (to),” Zarif said during a joint news conference in Tehran with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz.
When asked whether hardliners could derail the nuclear talks, Zarif said: ” Iran is not a monolith … we will have those who will not favour an agreement, but at the end of the day what will count is the view of the majority of the Iranian people.”
In November, Iran clinched a deal with world powers under which it froze some nuclear activities in return for limited relief from crippling international sanctions.
Tehran has been engaged in negotiations with the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany — aimed at reaching a lasting accord on its nuclear ambitions……. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Apr-27/254561-iran-fm-says-people-would-support-fair-nuclear-deal.ashx#ixzz30DTTdBDN
Iran nuclear talks: Quiet optimism over deal between Islamic State and the West on weapons programme The INdependent 24 April 14 All sides in the effort to resolve the stand-off between the West and Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons ambitions have agreed to hold a new round of expert-level negotiations in New York beginning 5 May amid tentative indications that so far, at least, positive progress is being made. Keeping its side of an interim bargain struck last November and implemented in January, the Joint Plan of Action, the White House has this month released $1bn-worth of Iranian assets in two instalments, the last on 15 April. And last week the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has so far fulfilled its part of what was agreed, dramatically reducing its stockpile of 20 per cent enriched uranium.
While significant hurdles remain before a final and comprehensive deal can be reached ahead of an informal deadline of 20 July, quiet optimism is gathering around the talks. That assessment stands in sharp contrast with almost every other foreign affairs dossier currently on President Barack Obama’s desk, be it concerning Syria, Russia, Ukraine or the faltering Middle East peace process.
The talks in New York, to be held at the UN on the fringes of a Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting, will be followed up by high-level talks between foreign ministers of Iran as well as the so-called P5+1 – China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US, plus Germany – in Vienna on 13 May.
If the negotiations are still on track it is in spite of loud opposition from hard-line critics of the putative deal both in Iran, on Capitol Hill and, as ever, from inside Israel. Yet those at the negotiating table, including the Iranians, have so far seemed determined to ignore those pressures.
“There is the political will to get an answer,” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, remarked during a visit to Abu Dhabi last week. “The domestic audience will be satisfied if we have a good deal. Of course some people will never be satisfied but that is fine because we have a pluralistic society.” He crucially has the support of the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, as well as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei……..
Meanwhile, in Washington the White House continues to resist calls from some in Congress to stall the release of Iranian assets that had been frozen by sanctions as well as Israeli exhortations to take a stronger line with Tehran. Further encouragement has been drawn by an Iranian concession announced last week radically to reduce the amount of plutonium that could be made at a new heavy-water reactor at Arak. There had been fears that its scientists could switch to plutonium from enriched uranium to build a bomb.
“I’m actually starting to believe that an agreement is possible,” David Petraeus, the former CIA director, told an audience at Harvard University this month. He went on: “It could be that it’s possible before this particular six-month deadline expires,” referring to the target of concluding an agreement by 20 July…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/iran-nuclear-talks-quiet-optimism-over-deal-between-islamic-state-and-the-west-on-weapons-programme-9275504.html
Arak nuclear reactor resolved says Iran http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=969168 April 20, 2014 Iran and six world powers have resolved their differences over the country’s plutonium-producing Arak reactor, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says.
The reactor, which has yet to be completed, has been a main point of contention at the ongoing talks aimed at ending the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The governments of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany – the so-called P5+1 – have expressed concern that Iran could use the plutonium produced at the facility in the western city of Arak to build nuclear weapons.
‘We have suggested that we will produce only one-fifth of the originally planned plutonium, and this was welcomed by the P5+1,’ said Salehi.
The world powers have called for Arak’s closure or for technical changes so that it no longer turns out plutonium.
Salehi said Arak would not be shuttered because Iran needs it to produce medical isotopes for civilian use, but that reducing its plutonium production capacity alleviates negotiators’ concerns.
The heavy water reactor uses natural uranium as its fuel and will generate plutonium as a by-product.
Iran and the sextet agreed in an interim deal in November on a limited suspension of sanctions in return for some nuclear concessions from Tehran, including suspending construction of the Arak reactor and scaling back uranium enrichment.
Under the broader agreement that both sides are aiming to conclude by July, Iran is expected to accept additional nuclear curbs while the world powers have promised to permanently lift all sanctions and to help Iran build new reactors.
Tehran insists that it has no plans to build nuclear weapons.
Iran and the P5+1 will hold expert-level nuclear talks May 5-9 in New York, said Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, according to Press TV.
Why we must give Iran nuclear deal a chance, Global Public SquareBy Tyler Cullis and Jamal Abdi, Special to CNN 18 April 14 Editor’s note: Tyler Cullis is a policy associate at the National Iranian American Council. Jamal Abdi is policy director at NIAC. The views expressed are the authors’ own.
The United States could be on the verge of securing a historic agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, one that verifiably limits it and opens the door to further cooperation between the two countries. Yet with a diplomatic victory on the horizon, the rhetoric of those who have long opposed any diplomatic resolution is reaching dizzying heights of disingenuousness.
During a recent Senate hearing, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) hit out at reports that negotiations with Iran may produce a deal that “only” extends Iran’s nuclear breakout timeline to 6 to 12 months.
“I don’t think we did everything that we’ve done to only get a six to twelve month lead time,” Menendez lamented as he grilled Secretary of State John Kerry over the progress of the talks………
The Israeli government appears to believe that threatening possible military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities is the solution. But here’s the kicker: some estimates suggest that an Israeli strike on Iran would delay Iran’s breakout timeline by…six to twelve months – the same as the negotiated approach. The problem, of course, is that unlike a diplomatic solution, which would trade sanctions relief for verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program, an Israeli (or U.S.) military strike would have the opposite effect, and could prompt Iran to kick out inspectors and make a dash for a nuclear deterrent.
All this suggests an understanding of the potential timelines under these scenarios points to one conclusion – the White House is taking the best approach, one that extends the breakout timeline and has the best potential for securing an intrusive inspections regime to ensure Iranian compliance.
Opponents of diplomacy would do well to reflect on the reality that as the United States has tried to leverage sanctions against Iran, Tehran has responded by ramping up the production of centrifuges. As a result, the U.S. has long been in need of a new direction in its policy toward Iran.
Tentatively, but unmistakably, the Obama Administration has pursued a new approach – one that has brought us the first freeze on Iran’s nuclear program in a decade and which reports suggests have led to significant concessions on Iran’s Arak reactor.
If such a deal is not good enough for some in Congress or Israel’s government, then they must be prepared to speak up and offer viable alternatives. In the meantime, they should avoid undermining one of the most promising prospects for limiting Iran’s nuclear program in years. http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/18/why-we-must-give-iran-nuclear-deal-a-chance/
Iran slashes nuclear stock, says UN http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=968784 April 18, 2014 Iran has cut its stock of highly-enriched uranium by 75 per cent, a new report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog has revealed.
The monthly update by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) showed Tehran remained in compliance with a November interim deal made with world powers, drawn up as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to Iran’s controversial nuclear drive.
Under the agreement, Iran pledged to ‘dilute’ half of its highly-enriched uranium by mid-April, with the rest to be converted by mid-July.
The IAEA report also said that progress on a plant in Tehran that will be used for the conversion of low-enriched uranium had been delayed, but that Iran had said this will not prevent it from fulfilling its part of the deal by the July 20 deadline.
Diplomats who saw the document told AFP everything was in order.
The international community was ‘keeping an eye’ on progress at the conversion plant in Tehran, one of the diplomats added.
Under the November deal, Iran agreed to freeze parts of its nuclear activities, including limiting enrichment. Enriching uranium can be part of a peaceful atomic drive but can also produce weapons-grade material for a bomb.
Tehran has consistently said its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only, while the West believes it has a military dimension.
Iran and six world powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — will next meet on May 13 in a bid to draw up a lasting accord and end the decade-old standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.
Olivier Guitta: Iran’s other nuclear timebomb http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/31/olivier-guitta-irans-other-nuclear-timebomb/ Olivier Guitta, National Post | March 31, 2014 While the international community has been focusing on a potential Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, another much larger issue looms, and should be tackled very urgently. But interestingly, except for a few concerned neighbours in the Gulf, nobody is really looking at the possible implications of a potential earthquake in Bushehr, where Iran’s oldest and main nuclear plant is located.
Bushehr, a city of over a million people in southeast Iran, sits in one of the most active seismic regions in the world, at the intersection of three tectonic plates. Building a nuclear plant in this area should have been a no-no, but construction started in 1975 with the help of Germany. It was stopped in 1979, right before the Revolution that unseated the Shah. It was resumed in 1996 with Russian assistance. The project took over 15 years to complete because of the very difficult technical issues of merging German and Russian technology. After Russia provided necessary nuclear fuel, the plant went operational in July 2013.
The safety issues concerning the plant are numerous: It is built with a 40-year-old design that has shown its limitations; the emergency coolant system is also 30 years old; it is running on two different technologies; according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the staff is not properly trained to face any kind of accident. In February, 2011, a broken water pump caused small metallic pieces to infiltrate the reactor cooling system, forcing the unloading of the fuel rods.
Iran and the Language of Nuclear Diplomacy http://guardianlv.com/2014/03/iran-and-the-language-of-nuclear-diplomacy/ by Christopher Spencer on March 30, 2014. The ongoing negotiations related to Iran and its nuclear program reflect the realities of the diplomacy of nuclear weapons. A current scholar of international relations observed that Iran learned a valuable lesson from the fate of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That lesson is that a state cannot directly oppose the United States in a violent fashion without possessing nuclear weapons. It was the supposed presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that formed the justification for the U.S. invasion of the country and the subsequent removal of Hussein’s regime. It is important to note that the U.S., as well as many other countries, categorizes weapons of mass destruction to include chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. In terms of foreign policy or military application, the use of a chemical weapon is the same as a nuclear weapon to the U.S.
The mullahs in Iran were carefully watching the interaction between the U.S. and Iraq. It is true that aspects of the Iranian nuclear program pre-date the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, but it can be argued that this event cemented the desire in the Iranian leadership to pursue a nuclear capacity of their own and to accelerate the process of acquiring it. Iran sees itself as a powerful player in the Middle East and seeks to expand that power further. They claim to represent the Shi’a sect of Islam and stand in opposition to Sunni regimes in states such as Saudi Arabia. The possession of nuclear weapons would offer Iran a valuable “shield” against possible aggression from the U.S.
Nuclear weapons have always been more valuable for the threat of their use rather than their actual deployment. The entire foreign policy of the Cold War confrontations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was based on the fact that both states possessed a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying civilization several times over. This made direct confrontation between the two super powers almost impossible to fathom, and indeed the one time it did nearly occur during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is perhaps the closest the world has ever come to annihilation. This is another lesson in the language of nuclear diplomacy that Iran has learned during its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Another more contemporary example would be that of North Korea. The belligerent state constantly flaunts its nuclear capacity and uses it as a negotiating tool in order to extract concessions from the international community. When they need additional food or energy imports, they will conduct a nuclear test or reopen a closed nuclear facility and then tell the world community to give them more goods in exchange for shutting down or scaling back the program. The fact that the North Korean regime possesses some functional nuclear devices forces more powerful actors like the U.S. to deal with them differently. The U.S. is vastly more powerful than North Korea, but it must acknowledge the North Korean nuclear capacity and the potential possibility of such weapons being used against local allies like South Korea or Japan.
It is this “latitude” that Iran is seeking by pursing a nuclear program of its own. Despite the rhetoric from Iranian leaders regarding the destruction of Israel, it is almost unthinkable that Iran would deploy a nuclear device against Israel, either directly or through the use of a terrorist organization as an intermediary. Such an action would almost assuredly result in retaliation from the world community that would destroy the current Iranian regime, if not the entire country itself. The question must then be asked about the stability of the Iranian regime. Would they essentially commit suicide by deploying a nuclear weapon against Israel, or do they seek the diplomatic and foreign policy protection that a nuclear capability provides?
This is not to say that a nuclear armed Iran would be a positive development for the Middle East or the world. An Iran with more diplomatic latitude would be a danger not only to the region but the rest of the world. Furthermore, other Middle East states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt have stated that if Iran develops a nuclear capability, they will seek nuclear weapons of their own. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East would not benefit the world at all. But this is the language of diplomacy for Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Advisor to Iran supreme leader urges direct nuclear talks with U.S. LA Times, By Ramin Mostaghim and Carol J. Williams December 27, 2013, TEHRAN — The chief foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for direct talks with the United States on nuclear issues, a possible sign from the supreme leader that he is amenable to ending the animosity that has defined relations with Washington for 34 years.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been the target of fierce criticism by political and religious hard-liners since he helped broker a deal with the United States and five other Western powers last month that will put Iranian high-level enrichment of uranium on hold for at least six months…….
The next round of talks between Iran and the six powers is to begin Monday in Geneva, and Velayati’s appeal for addressing each nation’s particular concerns individually could clear away obstacles to a permanent agreement imposed by some of the ideologically diverse P5-plus-1 members. http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-iran-us-nuclear-talks-20131227,0,592216.story#ixzz2onYWZ5xt
The Treasury Department announced last week that it would freeze assets and ban transactions for companies and individuals that attempt to evade U.S. sanctions and continue doing business that helps Iran’s nuclear industry. The move prompted Iranian negotiators to leave ongoing talks in Geneva Thursday evening, saying it was against the “spirit” of the deal reached last month to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
“That was a very wrong move,” Zarif told CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer in an interview from Tehran. He said he was “saddened” by the move but that he is committed to the short-term deal meant to allow for a longer, six-month period of negotiations.
“We are committed to the plan of action and the implementation of Geneva – but we believe it takes two to tango,” Zarif said. “The process has been derailed, the process has not died,” he added later. “We are trying to put it back and to correct the path, and continue the negotiations because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.”
Many U.S. lawmakers are still eager for a fresh round of sanctions against Iran, even if they were only made operative in six months if the attempt to reach a long-term nuclear deal fails…….www.cbsnews.com/news/nuclear-talks-are-derailed-not-dead-iranian-official-says/
Iran Nuclear Accord Is a Good Deal, BU Today, Critics of agreement miss the lessons of history 12.09.2013 By Robert Loftis Strip away all the rhetoric, and the November 23 agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program emerges as an exercise in realism. It recognizes that three decades of enmity and distrust will not be erased overnight, nor can the knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon be destroyed. This interim agreement represents a first step in verifiably ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program can be strictly limited to peaceful purposes. It is definitely a path worth pursuing.
The outlines of the agreement are simple: in return for a six-month halt to certain construction and enrichment activities, conversion and dilution of an existing 20 percent of enriched uranium stocks, and intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States and other powers will offer limited relief from crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.
In essence, it deprives Iran of the opportunity to readily further enrich uranium to levels of purity necessary for nuclear weapons. Over the course of this six-month agreement, the sides will explore the possibility of a comprehensive pact that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is limited to civilian purposes and that treats Iran as any other signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If, during the next six months, it becomes clear that the Iranians are cheating or trying to hide a military program, then the sanctions can be reimposed immediately and further steps considered. It is worth highlighting that the Iranians made this agreement not just with the United States and its European allies, but also with the Russians and the Chinese. The Iranians would have to weigh the costs of crossing its most sympathetic global powers by failing to live up to the agreement.
Far from being the “historic mistake” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends, the accord is the first step toward a goal that we all claim to share: an Iran that does not pose a nuclear threat to our friends and allies. …………….http://www.bu.edu/today/2013/pov-iran-nuclear-accord-is-a-good-deal/
John Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal to Congress sceptics BBC News 10 Dec 13, US Secretary of State John Kerry has defended the six-month nuclear deal struck with Iran to a sceptical panel of congressmen.
Mr Kerry said if the US Congress imposed new sanctions against Iran, it would risk the “delicate” diplomatic effort needed for a larger deal.
The US and other world powers have promised no new sanctions in exchange for a curb of Iran’s nuclear programme.
But US critics of the deal say it gives Iran cover to expand the programme.
And they have called for even tougher sanctions now, saying they would strengthen the hand of the so-called P5+1 group of nations engaged in negotiations with Iran…………
“I would state to you unequivocally, the answer is yes, the national security of the United States is stronger under this first-step agreement than it was before,” Mr Kerry said…….
During the hearing in the House foreign affairs committee, Mr Kerry was accused of grovelling to the Iranian government and letting down allies, the BBC’s Jonny Dymond reports.
But our correspondent says Mr Kerry pushed back against every suggestion of weakness on Iran, stressing that without a deal, the country would be closer to developing nuclear weapons.
“We are asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions,” Mr Kerry told the panel……http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25326782
Obama says Iran could be allowed a modest nuclear enrichment program President Obama says that it isn’t realistic to try to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear complex, but that strong monitoring would be needed. LA Times, By Paul RichterDecember 7, 2013, WASHINGTON — President Obama signaled Saturday that he was prepared to allow Iran to enrich uranium on its own soil, saying that a final deal could be structured to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
Obama also put the odds of success for the upcoming international negotiations with Iran at not “more than 50-50.”…….
But Obama is struggling to sell the deal in the face of intense resistance from Congress, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others who fear it will leave Iran with the ability to secretly edge toward a nuclear weapons program. Congress may adopt new sanctions in the coming weeks that Obama fears could upset the fragile diplomacy before negotiations resume.
The comments marked the first time that Obama has acknowledged Iran could be granted international approval to enrich uranium to low levels, provided it satisfied world concerns about its nuclear program and agreed to intrusive monitoring. ……….http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-obama-us-mideast-20131208,0,2891554.story#axzz2mzg6eYug
‘Saudis, Israelis developing new ‘super Stuxnet’ against Iran nuclear program’ Rt.com, 2 Dec 13 Saudi Arabia and Israel’s Mossad intelligence division are co-conspiring to produce a computer worm “more destructive” than the Stuxnet malware to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, according to a report from the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency.
“Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Bardo sent their representatives to a meeting in Vienna on November 24 to increase the two sides’ cooperation in intelligence and sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear program,” an anonymous source close to the Saudi secret services told Fars over the weekend.
The source noted that one of the major methods discussed was “the production of a malware worse than…Stuxnet.”
Stuxnet, a computer worm discovered in 2010, formed the basis of a cyberattack that sabotaged Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Its complexity prompted researchers to claim that it could only have been developed by a nation state.
It was generally believed to have been developed by the US and Israel, with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden only confirming their covert roles in an interview this July.
The intention behind the development of the new malware would be “to spy on and destroy the software structure of Iran’s nuclear program.” The source expressed a desire to remain anonymous on account of the sensitivity of information being shared. The plan would need a great deal of time and funding, with a rough figure of US $1 million being given as an estimate. It was apparently welcomed by Saudi Arabia with open arms……http://rt.com/news/stuxnet-iran-nuclear-mossad-565/
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