The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls on European Union to actively support Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Iran’s Rouhani urges EU’s active role in JCPOA implementation, Trend, 16 August 2017 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on the European Union to play a more active role to help the full implementation of the country’s nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), for the benefit of the Middle East and Europe, PressTV reported.

“The full implementation of the JCPOA benefits the EU and the region, so it is essential that the EU step up its efforts and role in this regard,” Rouhani said during a meeting with the new Austrian ambassador to Tehran, Stefan Scholz, on Wednesday.

Rouhani said the post-JCPOA era had offered a good opportunity for the further promotion of ties between Iran and the European countries, including Austria. Hailing Austria’s successful hosting of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, Rouhani said all parties would reap the benefits of the JCPOA.

“The JCPOA is a win-win agreement, which on the one hand, removed false concerns of certain Western countries, and on the other hand, lifted cruel sanctions against the Iranian nation,” the Iranian president said, adding that the agreement had brought about peace and provided a suitable economic condition for investors.

He said Iran was keen to seize the post-JCPOA opportunities for investment and expand economic ties, especially banking transactions.

The Austrian envoy, for his part, lauded the Tehran-Vienna ties as deeply-rooted and based on mutual respect, and said his country supported Iran’s policies at the international arena…… 

August 18, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Jordan soon to be plunged into nuclear debt by Russia?

Jordan in talks with Russia on financing solutions for nuclear reactor 2017-08-17 AMMAN,   (Xinhua) — Jordan on Wednesday said talks were still ongoing with Russia to secure the best financing solutions to build the country’s first nuclear power plant.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement that the two countries were still committed to the project to build a nuclear power plant in Jordan with two reactors each having a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

Russia’s Rosatom, the state atomic energy corporation, has been keen on implementing the project since its inception and is involved in the project with all its technical and financial aspects, the commission said, quoted by the Jordan Times.

The commission’s statement came following some local reports claiming that the Russian company was looking into withdrawing from the project and it has already submitted a request to Jordan in this regard…….

Jordan will secure 1.5 billion U.S. dollars and Russia will do the same for building the plant, which is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars. The rest will be financed by banks and funds.

In March 2015, Jordan signed an inter-governmental agreement with Russia to build and operate the nuclear power plant. Russia’s Rosatom will own 49 percent of the project.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Jordan, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

If USA imposes new sanctions, Iran could abandon the nuclear agreement

Iran could quit nuclear deal in ‘hours’ if new U.S. sanctions imposed: Rouhani, (Reuters), 14 Aug 17  – Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.“If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.

Iran says new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China and three European powers in which it agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile programs as well as human rights abuses.

The United States imposed unilateral sanctions after saying Iran’s ballistic missile tests violated a U.N. resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.

It stopped short of explicitly barring such activity.

Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

“The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the (nuclear deal), has broken its word on the Paris agreement and the Cuba accord…and that the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” Rouhani said.

Trump said last week he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

It’s up to Europe to save the nuclear agreement with Iran: they have 90 days in which to do this

The Europeans have 90 days to save the nuclear agreement with Iran ., IAN J. STEWART, Ian Stewart heads Project Alpha at King’s College London and directs the European Non-proliferation and Security Initiative at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-proliferation.8 Aug 17

The Trump administration and Iran are risking Europe’s strategic interests. The European states had pursued a peaceful but verifiable agreement on the Iran nuclear issue since the early 2000s and were key to achieving the nuclear agreement with Iran. The European Union and its member states were among the key actors in negotiating the JCPOA and are now centrally involved in ensuring that Iran adheres to (and doesn’t cheat on) the agreement. This European involvement includes chairing the Joint Commission, the mechanism accepted by all parties and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council as responsible for ensuring that the agreement is fully implemented by all sides.

To date, it has also been the Europeans who have adhered most closely to the letter of the agreement. European countries have lifted sanctions as required by the JCPOA and have engaged in civil nuclear cooperation with Iran on issues like nuclear security. European businesses have also begun to re-engage with Iran, including through one particularly large contract between the French oil company Total and the National Iranian Oil Company to develop a phase of the South Pars oil field. At the same time, European States have taken a firm line when Iran has pushed the bounds of the JCPOA, including its technical violation of the heavy water cap and proposals to import large quantities of uranium from Kazakhstan.

For its part, however, Iran has largely adhered to both the letter and the spirit of the JCPOA. Iran has destroyed the core of the Arak reactor and dismantled vast numbers of centrifuges. And its technical violations have been relatively minor to date. Worryingly, there are signs that Iran has also engaged in some higher risk activities, such as a previously underreported case involving the import of carbon fibre for its missile program, a dual‑use material subject to export controls under the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. But to be clear, this case was not considered a violation of the JCPOA by the United States, as the agreement covers only the import of dual-use goods for “Iran’s nuclear programme [as] set out in this JCPOA or other non-nuclear civilian end-use.” Counterintuitively, this language means that imports of nuclear-related dual-use items for a missile-related end use are not considered “civil” and are therefore a violation not of the JCPOA but of UNSCR2231, which prohibits development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In this case, Iran is evidently pushing the bounds of what is allowed under the JCPOA.

Despite the Trump administration’s rhetoric, the United States has also largely lived up to its commitments under the JCPOA. In particular, the United States lifted—and doesn’t appear to be planning to reverse—its own nuclear-related sanctions. (Washington has taken additional action in relation to Iran’s ballistic missile program, including through the designation of additional entities to be sanctioned.)

Amid this general adherence to the JCPOA, however, President Trump’s harsh anti-Iran rhetoric and the opposition of Iranian hardliners and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps risk undermining the nuclear agreement—an agreement that has undoubtedly has set back Iran’s nuclear weapons potential by many years and is in Europe’s strategic interests.

There’s much more that Europe could do.The Iran nuclear agreement belongs as much to Europe as it does to the other countries involved. European states demonstrated that they were willing to take an economic hit from sanctions to bring the agreement about. They have also invested heavily on the diplomatic front to both achieve and maintain the JCPOA. There is now no question that the European states wish to see full, continued implementation of the JCPOA and would only change this view if Iran committed an egregious violation. For these reasons, the European states have embarked upon a diplomatic and public campaign to persuade the United States that it must not withdraw from the agreement.

To sustain the JCPOA, however, the Europeans must urgently undertake three additional actions to demonstrate to both the United States and Iran that Europe will implement the JCPOA for as long as Iran is in compliance.

First, the Europeans should again explore the possibility of creating a safe financial channel for transactions with Iran. This move would have the dual benefit of encouraging trade with Iran, which has hitherto been slow to pick up, while also making clear to hardliners in the United States that it could not, on its own, undermine the JPCOA by leveraging the international financial system. Second, Europe should be prepared to adopt further sanctions on Iran for any violations of Security Council resolution 2231. This should include both missile launches and violations of the procurement restrictions mentioned above. These two actions would make clear that Europe is committed to implementing the JCPOA regardless of the actions of the United States and, at the same time, that the European countries are not willing to accept egregious action by Iran.

The European Union should embark on a third action. Presently the JCPOA is the best mechanism to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program stays peaceful, but the value of the agreement’s restrictions will reduce over time. By the mid-2020s, Iran will again be scaling up its enrichment effort. Therefore, the EU should begin to search for a longer-term solution both to the Iran nuclear issue and to broader regional tensions. This might best be pursued in the short term through the holding of bilateral dialogues and through civil society discourse on relevant security issues, including the nuclear issue and broader regional security issues.

Europe’s interest and President Trump’s interest align. Although President Trump might feel he can do without the Obama-era JCPOA, in reality the agreement is the best mechanism for both the Europeans and the United States to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program—at least for the next decade. It is also in the interest of Iran and its people. As such, it is appropriate for the Europeans to use its position and influence to ensure the sustainability for the JCPOA for as long as the IAEA confirms Iran’s compliance.

The Trump administration might resist the idea of a safe European financial channel with Iran or European leadership in relation to broader regional issues. It should nonetheless be willing to accept these measures, given that the result would be to ensure the continued peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. The alternative would be for the United States to unilaterally weaken is position vis-à-vis Iran and diminish its control over the global financial system, which would be counter to broader US security interests.

President Trump must ultimately decide within 90 days on whether to recertify Iran in compliance or to jeopardize the security interests of both the United States and its closest allies.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Kuwait getting right out of nuclear investment, as it sells shares in the beleagured AREVA group

Kuwaiti fund to sell Areva shares in bid, stay away from nuclear – sources,  KIA to sell five pct Areva stake in delisting buyout

* Kuwait sovereign wealth fund to take 86 pct loss on Areva

* KIA declined French offer to buy stakes in NewCo, Areva NP

* World’s biggest SWF to stay away from nuclear investment

By Geert De Clercq, PARIS, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) will sell its nearly five percent stake in Areva to the French state as the nuclear group is delisted and will stay away from nuclear investments for now, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s biggest, paid 600 million euros ($712 million) for its 4.82 percent stake stake in 2010, but since then Areva’s stock has plunged as its equity has been wiped out by years of losses.

Following a state-funded 4.5 billion euro rescue and restructuring of Areva, the French state will pay 4.5 euros per share for KIA’s 18.46 million shares, or about 83 million euros, representing an 86 percent loss for the fund.

When it decided to buy the Areva stake nearly seven years ago, Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries considering developing nuclear power to meet demand for electricity and water desalination.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters that the French state had proposed that KIA take equity stakes in nuclear fuel group Areva NewCo and reactor building unit Areva NP, which will both be spun off from the legacy Areva SA in which KIA is the main minority shareholder.

“A proposal was made to KIA but they have not followed up. KIA has no further development projects in nuclear,” a source close to Areva told Reuters.

The source said that as main minority shareholder after the French state – which directly and indirectly owns nearly 89 percent of Areva SA – KIA was kept informed about the restructuring but had no interest in taking part in it in any way and will sell its shares to the French state.

Prior to the delisting of Areva SA, the state has launched a buyout offer that runs from Aug. 1 to 14.

Areva’s uranium mining and nuclear fuel activities have been spun off as Areva NewCo, while its nuclear reactor unit Areva NP is being sold to state-owned utility EDF. Japan’s MHI will buy minority stakes in both units.

The restructuring leaves legacy Areva SA, once the vanguard of France’s nuclear export drive, as an empty shell with mainly the liabilities related to the troubled Olkiluoto 3 nuclear newbuild project in Finland.

KIA officials were not available for comment.

August 5, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, MIDDLE EAST | Leave a comment

Scrapping the Iran nuclear deal could result in disaster

The Guardian view on Iran: the nuclear deal is not a disaster – but scrapping it could be, Guardian, 
Editorial 5 Aug 17   Hassan Rouhani has a hefty electoral mandate for his second term but faces opposition at home and a US president determined to scrap the landmark nuclear agreement. 
hen the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is sworn in again on Saturday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and ministers from Britain, France and Germany will be in Tehran to watch; an indication of how far relations with the west warmed in his first term. Yet as he embarks upon his second, he may feel the chill. Despite defeating his conservative rival by a landslide in May’s elections, opposition is ranged against him at home and abroad. The great domestic uncertainty he faces – supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 78 and without a clear successor – is for now overshadowed by Donald Trump’s threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors its implementation, says Iran is complying with the requirements to curb its nuclear programme and accept inspections in return for sanctions relief. But Mr Trump has vowed to overturn the Obama administration’s stand-out foreign policy achievement. He has twice signed the sanctions waiver, but with extreme reluctance. He has asked aides to find a way to ditch the deal and says he expects Iran to be declared non-compliant next month. Officials say it has breached the pact “in spirit”………

American hostility can only bolster the isolationist, hardline forces ranged against Mr Rouhani; against the wishes and instincts of the Iranian people; against stability in the region and indeed against the interests of the US. Even defence secretary James Mattis – who has defined the three gravest threats facing the USas “Iran, Iran, Iran” – is among those pressing to maintain the deal. The president he serves calls the agreement a disaster. But Mr Trump is, as usual, wrong. It is scrapping it that could court catastrophe.

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

As President Rouhani starts a new term, Iran says US breaching nuclear deal

Iran says US breaching nuclear deal as Rouhani starts new term, Borneo Bulletin August 4, 2017 TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said yesterday new US sanctions were a violation of its nuclear deal with world powers, piling pressure on President Hassan Rouhani as he started his second term.

Rouhani vowed to continue his efforts to end the country’s isolation as he was sworn in by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following his re-election in May.

But the ceremony came less than 24 hours after US President Donald Trump confirmed fresh sanctions against Iran.

Tehran says the new measures violate its 2015 deal with world powers that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, an agreement which Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up.

“We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on state television. We will certainly not fall into the trap of US policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered.”

The mounting crisis creates a difficult position for Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate who won re-election largely thanks to his efforts to repair relations with the West.

“We will never accept isolation,” Rouhani said as he was sworn in in front of top political and military officials.

“The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage,” he added.

Khamenei took a tougher line, saying Iran must not fall for Washington’s “tricks”……

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

United States brfeached the Iran nuclear deal – Iran accuses

Iran accuses United States of breaching nuclear deal Bozorgmehr Sharafedin,  1 Aug 17 LONDON (Reuters) – Iran believes new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the nuclear deal it agreed in 2015 and has complained to a body that oversees the pact’s implementation, a senior politician said on Tuesday.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the United States, Russia, China and three European powers, Iran curbed its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.

However, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program, after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

The U.S. Senate voted on the same day to impose new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile programs as well as human rights abuses.

“Iran’s JCPOA supervisory body assessed the new U.S. sanctions and decided that they contradict parts of the nuclear deal,” Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency. “Iran has complained to the (JCPOA) Commission for the breach of the deal by America,” he added, referring to the joint commission set up by the six world powers, Iran and the European Union to handle any complaints about the deal’s implementation.

If the commission is unable to resolve a dispute, parties can take their grievances to the U.N. Security Council……..

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump trying to provoke Iran into violating the nuclear agreement

Trump Seeks Way to Declare Iran in Violation of Nuclear Deal, NYT, JULY 27, 2017 President Trump, frustrated that his national security aides have not given him any options on how the United States can leave the Iran nuclear deal, has instructed them to find a rationale for declaring that the country is violating the terms of the accord.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

American new sanctions against Iran – designed to kill off the nuclear agreement

New US sanctions aim to kill Iran nuclear deal – expert July 2017 Baku, Azerbaijan,  By Farhad Daneshvar – Trend:

The US decision to impose fresh sanctions on Iran is a violation of a nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Tehran and the six major powers including the United States, a Norway-based Iranian financial analyst told Trend.

Elaborating on the recent decision by US House of Representatives to slap new sanctions on Iran, Mehrdad Seyed Asgari said that the new sanctions provide the US with a chance to covertly kill or avert the nuclear accord.

In this particular case aborting the deal means that the US will refuse to properly implement the articles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA aka nuclear deal) aimed at placing the administration of President Hassan Rouhani under tremendous pressure.

Sanctions have been imposed on Iran with an aim to divide the country’s economic system in two parts of “white and black”, he mentioned.

Since the American lawmakers believe that sanctions work as a powerful tool, they appear to continue increasing pressure on Iran through introducing new sanctions.

The recent bill passed by the US House of Representatives on introducing new sanctions on Iran is very likely to become a law, he concluded.

The lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to slap new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The legislation in order to become a law still needs to be signed by President Donald Trump

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Israel STILL punishing Mordechai Vanunu

The Ferret 18th July 2017, On 10 July 2017, Mordechai Vanunu was given a two-month suspended jail
sentence by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Vanunu is a former nuclear
technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre in Dimona, Israel, who
served an 18-year prison sentence for revealing information about
Israel’s atomic program in 1986.

He was sentenced earlier this month for
violating the conditions of his release from prison, having met with
foreigners in recent years. After his release from jail in 2004, Israel
banned Vanunu from travelling abroad or speaking with foreigners without
approval, alleging he has more details to divulge on the Dimona atomic

Billy Briggs has been to Jerusalem twice to interview Vanunu. In
2005, Vanunu was arrested three days after they met and charged with
speaking to foreigners and violating the conditions of his parole.

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Israel, politics | 1 Comment

In Mosul, ISIS nearly had the means to make a radioactive “dirty bomb”

More certain is the fact that the danger has not entirely passed. With dozens of Islamic State stragglers still loose in the city, U.S. officials requested that details about the cobalt’s current whereabouts not be revealed.

They also acknowledged that their worries extend far beyond Mosul. Similar equipment exists in hundreds of cities around the world, some of them in conflict zones.

“Nearly every country in the world either has them, or is a transit country” through which high-level radiological equipment passes

How ISIS nearly stumbled on the ingredients for a ‘dirty bomb’, WP,   July 22   On the day the Islamic State overran the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, it laid claim to one of the greatest weapons bonanzas ever to fall to a terrorist group: a large metropolis dotted with military bases and garrisons stocked with guns, bombs, rockets and even battle tanks.

But the most fearsome weapon in Mosul on that day was never used by the terrorists. Only now is it becoming clear what happened to it.Locked away in a storage room on a Mosul college campus were two caches of cobalt-60, a metallic substance with lethally high levels of radiation. When contained within the heavy shielding of a radiotherapy machine, cobalt-60 is used to kill cancer cells. In terrorists’ hands, it is the core ingredient of a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that could be used to spread radiation and panic.

Western intelligence agencies were aware of the cobalt and watched anxiously for three years for signs that the militants might try to use it. Those concerns intensified in late 2014 when Islamic State officials boasted of obtaining radioactive material, and again early last year when the terrorists took over laboratories at the same Mosul college campus with the apparent aim of building new kinds of weapons.

In Washington, independent nuclear experts drafted papers and ran calculations about the potency of the cobalt and the extent of the damage it could do. The details were kept under wraps on the chance that Mosul’s occupiers might not be fully aware of what they had.

Iraqi military commanders were apprised of the potential threat as they battled Islamic State fighters block by block through the sprawling complex where the cobalt was last seen. Finally, earlier this year, government officials entered the bullet-pocked campus building and peered into the storage room where the cobalt machines were kept.

They were still there, exactly as they were when the Islamic State seized the campus in 2014. The cobalt apparently had never been touched.

“They are not that smart,” a relieved health ministry official said of the city’s former occupiers.

Why the Islamic State failed to take advantage of its windfall is not clear. U.S. officials and nuclear experts speculate that the terrorists may have been stymied by a practical concern: how to dismantle the machines’ thick cladding without exposing themselves to a burst of deadly radiation.

More certain is the fact that the danger has not entirely passed. With dozens of Islamic State stragglers still loose in the city, U.S. officials requested that details about the cobalt’s current whereabouts not be revealed.

They also acknowledged that their worries extend far beyond Mosul. Similar equipment exists in hundreds of cities around the world, some of them in conflict zones.

“Nearly every country in the world either has them, or is a transit country” through which high-level radiological equipment passes, said Andrew Bieniawski, a vice president for the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative who once led U.S. government efforts to safeguard such materials.

“This,” he said, “is a global problem.”

A lethal dose in three minutes

The worries began within hours of the Islamic State’s stunning blitz into Iraq’s second-largest city. As TV networks showed footage of triumphant terrorists parading through Mosul’s main thoroughfares, intelligence agencies took quiet inventory of the vast array of military and material wealth the Islamist militants had suddenly acquired. The list included three Iraqi military bases, each supplied with U.S.-made weapons and vehicles. It also included bank vaults containing hundreds of millions of dollars in hard currency, as well as factories for making munitions and university laboratories for mixing chemicals used in explosives or as precursors for poison gas.

U.S. officials also were aware that the Islamic State had gained control of small quantities of natural or low-enriched uranium — the remnants of Iraq’s nuclear projects from the time of Saddam Hussein’s presidency — as well as some relatively harmless radioactive iridium used in industrial equipment.

But a far bigger radiological concern was the cobalt. Intelligence agencies knew of the existence in Mosul of at least one powerful radiotherapy machine used for cancer treatment, one that could potentially provide the Islamic State with a potent terrorist weapon.

Outside experts were becoming aware of the threat as well…..

Leaders of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are known to have sought materials for a dirty bomb, a threat that has added urgency to efforts by U.S. agencies and private groups to improve security for machines with heavy concentrations of cobalt-60, or other radioactive elements such as cesium-137, which comes in a powdery form that is even easier to disperse.

The machines are a necessary fixture in many cancer clinics around the world, but in Western countries efforts are underway to replace the most dangerous models with new technology that cannot be easily exploited by terrorists, said Bieniawski, the former Energy Department official. His organization, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, has raised money to try to speed up the transition, but for now, he said, older machines such as the ones in Mosul are commonly found in developing countries where the risk of theft or terrorism is greatest.

“The ones we see overseas are in the highest category — the highest levels of curies — and they are also portable,” he said. “They are exactly the ones we are most worried about.”

Morris reported from Beirut. Mustafa Salim in Irbil, Iraq, contributed to this report.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Iraq, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The danger of America failing to keep its end of the Iran nuclear deal

Iran nuclear deal still under threat — US must keep its end of the bargain, 

Earlier this week, the Trump administration certified for a second time that Iran remains in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Deal. However, media reportsindicate that the president was deeply reluctant to certify Iran’s compliance and may not be willing to do so in the future.

The administration is required to certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days, and if it fails to do so, Congress is given a 60-day period during which it can re-impose sanctions or abandon the deal altogether. Some in Congress would jump at this opportunity to kill the deal. But if the United States violates or walks away from the nuclear deal, it will alienate our allies and partners who helped us negotiate the agreement, allow Iran to resume its nuclear weapons program, and damage U.S. national security.

Iran’s nuclear activity was the subject of much concern before the JCPOA effectively constrained the risk of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Before formal negotiations were started, it is estimated that Iran was mere weeksaway from “breaking out,” or having enough fissile material to create a nuclear weapon. Now, Iran is more than a year away from breaking out.

Iran’s obligations under the deal have been strict and verifiable. Under the agreement, Iran has forfeited its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and has reduced its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by about 97 percent. It has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, and is prohibited from enriching uranium above 3.67 percent — far below the 90 percent enrichment required for use in nuclear weapons.

The JCPOA also blocks Iran’s pathway to a plutonium weapon by requiring Iran to render its plutonium reactor inoperable, redesign the Arak facility so that it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium, and send all radioactive waste out of the country so that it cannot be reprocessed to create plutonium.

Critics of the deal have argued that it gives Iran a “clear path to the bomb” because some of the deal’s provisions will be phased out after a specified number of years. However, even after all of the so-called “sunset clauses” have expired, Iran has indefinitely signed up to the Additional Protocol, an agreement which permanently allows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct intrusive inspections on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iran’s compliance with the deal has been consistently verified by the IAEA and the intelligence agencies of other countries interested in the agreement. Even initial critics of the JCPOA, like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Corker, agree that it is in the United States’ national security interest to adhere to it.

Still, as President Trump’s reluctance to certify Iran’s compliance illustrates, the deal remains under threat. In addition to the question of certifying compliance, the Trump administration is conducting an interagency review of the deal to determine whether to continue suspending nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. If the Trump administration decides to stop waiving these sanctions, it will constitute a material breach of the deal.

Similarly, Congress is in the process of passing a bill that would authorize sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile tests and sponsorship of terrorism, neither of which are addressed by the nuclear deal. Negotiators intentionally excluded these issues from the JCPOA, because they correctly understood that the nuclear issue was the first and most pressing issue at hand. Congress can and should address Iran’s missile program and support for terrorism, but must be careful to do so in a way that will not violate the nuclear deal. Reapplying waived sanctions under the guise of targeting new activities or legislating well-intentioned but poorly thought-out mandates for how the Trump administration must punish Iran will jeopardize the agreement.

There is no doubt that intentionally abandoning or accidentally violating the JCPOA will be detrimental to U.S. national security. Iran would be able to keep billions of dollars in sanctions relief that it received as part of the deal, and could choose to block IAEA inspections at its nuclear facilities. The United States could reintroduce sanctions against Iran, but our allies have indicated they have no interest in renegotiating or reapplying sanctions. The United States would be on its own and Iran could restart its race to a nuclear bomb.

There is only one good option: Uphold our end of the Iran deal while closely watching to ensure that Iran upholds theirs. We can and should combat Iran’s destabilizing activities, but not at the cost of a nuclear deal that is making the United States and the world safer.

Bernadette Stadler is a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where she works on issues including North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, U.S.-Russian relations, and the Iran nuclear agreement.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran refrains from being drawn into a row, by USA’s new sanctions slapped on Iran

Iran skips opportunity to upset nuclear deal over U.S. sanctions: sources VIENNA (Reuters) 22 July 17 – Iran decided on Friday for the second time since January not to upset its nuclear pact with six world powers, two informed sources said, despite public statements by Tehran accusing the United States of violating the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday new U.S. economic sanctions imposed against Iran contravened the nuclear accord reached with world powers in 2015 and he pledged Tehran would “resist” them while respecting the deal itself.

The Trump administration slapped new sanctions on Iran on Tuesday over its ballistic missile program and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from the nuclear accord, which was reached during the Obama administration.

Iran can use the so-called Joint Commission meetings held every three months in Vienna to trigger a formal dispute resolution mechanism set out for cases where one party feels there is a breach of the deal……

A source with knowledge of the matter said “the Iranians did complain a lot and the Russians supported them, but they won’t play along to Washington’s game and be turned into killjoys.”

This source, and another one with knowledge of Friday’s meeting, said Iran did not use the plenary session comprised of envoys from Iran, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the EU to start a dispute resolution.

This mirrored Tehran’s actions in January at a previous so-called Joint Commission meeting, which is held in Vienna every three months, when Iranian officials opted not to escalate a stand-off over the extension of other U.S. sanctions…….

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Iran, safety | Leave a comment

The Iran nuclear deal is working

Iran nuclear deal is working
 The Editorial Board, USA TODAY  July 20, 2017 Facts get in the way of Trump’s plan to dismantle Obama’s agreement: Our view “…..
This week, for the second time since taking the oath of office, Trump grudgingly stood by the deal Iran reached with the United States and five other nations in 2015. He certified that Tehran was complying with strict terms that bar the nation from creating enough fissile material for building a nuclear weapon.

Why the turnaround? The answer is simple: The agreement is working.

With a few minor exceptions that have nothing to do with proliferation — each quickly corrected when discovered by inspectors — Tehran has abided by limits on stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, heavy water for nuclear plant operation and centrifuges for enriching uranium. Last year, for example, Iran poured concrete into the core of its only heavy-water plant capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, ruining it..

All these matters and more are monitored continuously and stringently by inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They use permanently placed cameras and electronic seals to track whether valves, stockpiles or other indicators have been altered. They conduct in-person inspection of 19 declared sites and, despite Iranian officials claiming that military bases are off limits, can see any other location where they suspect something might be amiss. Should Iran object, and a negotiation process that can take no longer than 24 days fails to satisfy inspectors’ demands, the nuclear deal can be abrogated.

Iran has used the unfreezing of assets to re-engage the world’s economy, including with a $3 billion Boeing airliner deal that could create or sustain 18,000 American jobs.

 To be sure, the Iran nuclear deal has its flaws. Iran can resume its nuclear programwithin 15 years. The release of frozen assets has allowed the underwriting of Tehran’s militancy. Predictions that the deal would moderate the regime in Tehran have proved naive…….

bad actor without nuclear weapons is better than a bad actor with nuclear weapons. Imagine how much safer the world would be if a similar deal had been struck with North Korea years ago, before it could threaten to incinerate part of the United States.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment