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Iran, hit by hardship and coronavirus, gets callous sanctions from Trump administration

 Trump’s callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipice, Mike Pompeo’s imposition of further sanctions is another disaster for the people of Iran and could cause Tehran to raise the stakes, Guardian,  Simon Tisdall  Sun 22 Mar 2020

Displaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week – a time of unprecedented global turmoil – to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues.

The timing of the new measures was doubly inept. Iran’s freeing of thousands of political prisoners last week raised hopes of full pardons for jailed US citizens and the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been temporarily released.

Those hopes have receded now. Meanwhile, Pompeo’s heedless intervention risked fuelling calls inside Iran to

not only the creaking 2015 nuclear deal but also the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the cornerstone since 1970 of international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

,………. the move could hardly have been more provocative, or more cruel. Iranians have endured many months of intensifying hardship as US sanctions have shrunk the economy, destroyed jobs and depressed living standards. They have been badly hit by the coronavirus, which the health ministry has said is killing one person every 10 minutes.

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Callous US disregard for Iran’s Covid-19 emergency – it is effectively blocking bilateral medical aid and a request for a $5bn loan from the International Monetary Fund – suggests that Washington is not interested in confidence-building measures. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo snarled.

Iran’s leadership is under pressure from conservative hardliners after the latter’s recent election successes. This latest manifestation of Washington’s unremitting hostility may help push them over the brink. Thanks mainly to Donald Trump and his sidekick, Tehran could soon move a crucial step closer to going nuclear – the very outcome the Americans most fear……. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/21/trump-pompeo-iran-callous-sanctions-nuclear-precipice

Sun 22 Mar 2020 Trump’s callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipiceSimon Tisdall

isplaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week – a time of unprecedented global turmoil – to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues.

The timing of the new measures was doubly inept. Iran’s freeing of thousands of political prisoners last week raised hopes of full pardons for jailed US citizens and the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been temporarily released.

Those hopes have receded now. Meanwhile, Pompeo’s heedless intervention risked fuelling calls inside Iran to

not only the creaking 2015 nuclear deal but also the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the cornerstone since 1970 of international efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

,………. the move could hardly have been more provocative, or more cruel. Iranians have endured many months of intensifying hardship as US sanctions have shrunk the economy, destroyed jobs and depressed living standards. They have been badly hit by the coronavirus, which the health ministry has said is killing one person every 10 minutes.

Callous US disregard for Iran’s Covid-19 emergency – it is effectively blocking bilateral medical aid and a request for a $5bn loan from the International Monetary Fund – suggests that Washington is not interested in confidence-building measures. “The Wuhan virus is a killer and the Iranian regime is an accomplice,” Pompeo snarled.

Iran’s leadership is under pressure from conservative hardliners after the latter’s recent election successes. This latest manifestation of Washington’s unremitting hostility may help push them over the brink. Thanks mainly to Donald Trump and his sidekick, Tehran could soon move a crucial step closer to going nuclear – the very outcome the Americans most fear……. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/21/trump-pompeo-iran-callous-sanctions-nuclear-precipice

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power, then nuclear weapons? for United Arab Emirates

March 12, 2020 Posted by | politics, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

 Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities

U.N. atomic watchdog says Iran still providing nuclear access, Japan Times, 9 Mar 20, VIENNA – Iran continues to provide international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities, even after its announcement it was no longer bound by “any restrictions” of the landmark 2015 deal with world powers designed to prevent the country from producing a nuclear weapon, the head of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said Monday.Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told board members in Vienna that since Tehran’s Jan. 5 announcement it appears that Iran hasn’t escalated its violations of the nuclear pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“The agency has not observed any changes to Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA in connection with this announcement, or in the level of cooperation by Iran in relation to agency verification and monitoring activities under the JCPOA,” Grossi said in prepared remarks……..

The JCPOA promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, but since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal unilaterally in 2018 and imposed new sanctions, the country’s economy has been struggling.

Its violations of the pact are intended to pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for the American sanctions. So far, attempts by the other members of the JCPOA have fallen short of Iran’s demands.

In a separate report to members last week, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers.

The activities at those locations are believed to have dated from the early 2000s, before the nuclear deal, and Iran responded to the report by suggesting that the IAEA had no legal basis to inspect those sites.

In his speech to the board members, Grossi called on “Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the agency.”

“The agency has identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations that have not been declared by Iran,” Grossi said, according to his prepared remarks. “The agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the agency’s questions.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/09/world/u-n-atomic-watchdog-says-iran-still-providing-nuclear-access/#.XmbVIagzbIU

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Middle East nuclear arms race to begin, as United Arab Emirates to open world’s largest nuclear reactor?

UAE’s nuclear plant fuels fears of Middle East arms race World’s largest reactor seen as a threat to stability in highly charged region Nikkei Asian Review, NESREEN BAKHEIT and HIDEMITSU KIBE, Nikkei staff writers, MARCH 06, 2020 DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates will soon become the newest player on the nuclear stage as it prepares to open the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant.

State-run Korea Electric Power Corporation of South Korea is finishing work on four nuclear reactors in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Known as Barakah and owned by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the plant is scheduled to go online later this month with a capacity of 5.6 gigawatts.

Barakah is likely to fuel fears in the already tense region, given the uncertainty over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal, and Israel’s lack of transparency over its nuclear program. Experts warn about more nuclear plants, increased uranium enrichment, and a possible nuclear arms race in what is arguably the most volatile region in the world……

the UAE’s neighbors are far from comfortable with the new plant.

Qatar expressed concern in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, stating that an accidental discharge of radioactive material from Barakah could reach the capital of Doha in under 13 hours.

There are also concerns that the facility could be attacked. Paul Dorfman, researcher at University College London, told Nikkei that the risk of a missile attack on a nuclear facility is not to be discounted. Yemeni rebels claimed responsibility for just such an attack that targeted Barakah while still under construction in 2017. ……

Egypt and Jordan have also jumped on board the nuclear bandwagon. Egypt is set to build four nuclear reactors this year in collaboration with Russia in the El Dabaa region west of Cairo. Lawmaker Ahmed al Tantawi is wary of his country’s nuclear program, stating that Egypt already has a surplus of electricity.

Jordan’s nuclear program, however, faces problems such as financing and how to mitigate potential terrorist attacks. There is also a shortage of water needed to cool reactors, as it is one of the world’s most arid countries.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions are the most alarming. The country already has one nuclear power reactor at the Bushehr power plant and has two other Russian-designed reactors in the works. Construction on one began in November 2019 and is scheduled to finish in 2023. Another is still in the planning stage.

Tehran had curtailed enrichment under the nuclear deal, from which the U.S. withdrew in 2018. But the situation drastically changed in January after the U.S. drone assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani.

“Iran is still adhering to some of its duties under the JCPOA, such as International Atomic Energy Agency oversight,” Mohammed Marandi, political analyst at the University of Tehran, told Nikkei. “But with regards to research and development, the Iranians will no longer accept limitations due to the Europeans and Japanese [not cooperating],” he added.

The European Union tried to save the Iran Nuclear Deal after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew. Later, however, the U.K., France and Germany invoked the dispute settlement framework in the deal after Iran increased enrichment activities on the heels of Soleimani’s assassination. Even Japan tried to help by mediating between Tehran and Washington but ultimately failed to ease tensions.

Israel, which is notably not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, has a highly advanced military. The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a U.S. nuclear research entity, warns that Israel possesses nuclear weapons along with a large supply of ballistic and cruise missiles to deliver them. And there is no open consensus among experts as to the extent of Israel’s nuclear program.

Analysts say that U.S. policy is encouraging a Middle East nuclear arms race in two ways. First, the U.S. defense and nuclear industries view the region as a lucrative market, with Saudi Arabia being a key buyer. Second, the inaction of Europe, Russia and China to counter U.S. sanctions against Iran do not encourage Tehran to remain a party to the nuclear deal. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/UAE-s-nuclear-plant-fuels-fears-of-Middle-East-arms-race

March 7, 2020 Posted by | politics international, United Arab Emirates, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not economic, nor safe, but it bolsters a secretive autocratic regime, United Arab Emirates

March 3, 2020 Posted by | politics, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Egypt going into $25 billion debt to Russia, to buy nuclear reactors

Russia lends Egypt $25 billion for Dabaa nuclear power plant, AL-Monitor, 26 Feb 20,  CAIROAtomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, or Rosatom, announced Feb. 17 that three Egyptian companies were awarded a tender offer for constructing the first phase of Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant.

The three Egyptian companies, competing among 10 others, are Petrojet, Hassan Allam and the Arab Contractors.

The Egyptian government intends to start negotiations within the next few days with the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority to obtain permission to start implementing the Dabaa nuclear plant project. The plant will be constructed in the Dabaa area of Marsa Matrouh governorate in the west of the country.

The Dabaa plant is the first nuclear plant for peaceful uses, with a total capacity of 4.8 gigawatts. The project is financially supported by Rosatom through a Russian loan amounting to $25 billion………….

Yemen al-Hamaki, a professor of economics at Ain Shams University said that under this agreement Egypt will use the loan to finance 85% of the total value of the building, construction, insurance and all other related works. Egypt would bear the remaining 15% in the form of installments. The loan is for 13 years at a 3% annual interest rate. If Egypt fails to repay any of the annual interest within 10 working days, it shall be subject to arrears of 150% of the interest rate calculated on a daily basis

Hamaki also warned that this massive Russian loan of $25 billion could blow up Egypt’s foreign debts. “This loan is a great risk to the future because it burdens the state and should be settled from the wealth and economic assets of the future generations,” she said, adding, “Egypt’s resorting to many loans foretells its inability to attract foreign investments, while tourism revenues continue to decline.” …..  https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/02/power-plant-nuclear-egypt-russia-loan.html#ixzz6F5iQcolQ

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Egypt, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Iran Nuclear Accord Parties Meet to Try to Salvage Deal

February 27, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explains Trump’s plan to kill off the Iran nuclear agreement

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Iran would return to 2015 nuclear agreement if Europe would provides “meaningful” economic benefits

February 18, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Saugeen Ojibway Nation vote ends company’s plans to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron

Jeremy Ervin, Port Huron Times Herald  Feb. 3, 2020 An Ontario power company has announced it will no longer consider storing nuclear waste underground near Lake Huron. …

The decision came following years of Michigan lawmakers asking Ontario Power Generation to reconsider. It took the vote of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation of Ontario Friday to shift the discussions away from the lake. Of 1,232 ballots cast, 1,058 were against the site and 170 in favor.

We were not consulted when the nuclear industry was established in our Territory,” said a news release on the vote. “Over the past forty years, nuclear power generation in Anishnaabekiing has had many impacts on our Communities, and our Land and Waters, including the production and accumulation of nuclear waste.”

The release said that SON leaders will work with Ontario Power Generation “to find an acceptable solution for the waste.

“We will continue to work with OPG and others in the nuclear industry on developing new solutions for nuclear waste in our Territory,” said Chief Greg Nadjiwon of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. “We know that the waste currently held in above-ground storage at the Bruce site will not go away. SON is committed to developing these solutions with our communities and ensuring Mother Earth is protected for future generations. We will continue to ensure that our People will lead these processes and discussions.” ……….

Site had been sought since 2010

On Jan. 24, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization announced it had signed agreements with landowners east of Lake Huron in South Bruce, Ontario, which would allow land access for studies for the site. …….

In January, southeast Michigan state representatives Gary Howell, R-Lapeer, and Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, issued statements against locations near Kincardine and Lake Huron. They said the Kincardine locations are too close to Lake Huron, and expressed concerns about drinking water and public health if something went wrong at the site.

They called on the United States Congress to do everything in its power to stop the development. https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/2020/02/03/plans-store-nuclear-waster-near-lake-huron-halted/4587366002/

February 3, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, Syria, wastes | Leave a comment

Top EU diplomat to visit Tehran amid nuclear tensions

February 3, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Qatar says UAE`s power plant activities are a threat to Gulf stability and the environment

February 1, 2020 Posted by | environment, MIDDLE EAST, safety | Leave a comment

Danger of Armenian nuclear plant to neighbouring Turkey

February 1, 2020 Posted by | safety, Turkey | Leave a comment

U.S. sanctions Iran’s atomic power chief for nuclear violations

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump tweets that US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran

US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran , https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-will-not-lift-sanctions-to-secure-nuclear-deal-with-iran 26 Jan 2020, Donald Trump has tweeted that the US will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate a new nuclear deal.

The United States will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate, US President Donald Trump has tweeted, seemingly in response to a Der Spiegel interview with Iran’s foreign minister.

“Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. @FoxNews @OANN No Thanks!” Trump tweeted in English on Saturday and later in Farsi.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Sunday by tweeting an excerpt from the interview with Der Spiegel published on Friday, where he said Iran is still open to negotiations with America if sanctions are lifted.

“@realdonaldtrump is better advised to base his foreign policy comments & decisions on facts, rather than @FoxNews headlines or his Farsi translators,” Zarif said in the tweet with the interview excerpt.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have reached the highest levels in decades after the US killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting Iran to fire missiles days later at bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed.

Tensions between the two have been increasing steadily since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have driven down Iran’s oil exports and hammered its economy.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment