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Following fire at nuclear site, Iran warns it will retaliate if it suffers cyber attacks

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Iran, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fire at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility

Iran nuclear: ‘Incident’ at Natanz uranium enrichment facility, BBC, 2 July 2020 

A fire has reportedly damaged a building at a nuclear facility in Iran.

Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behruz Kamalvandi said there was an incident in “one of the industrial sheds under construction” at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

There were no fatalities or concerns about contamination, he added.

The AEOI later published a photo showing a partly burned building, which US-based analysts identified as a new centrifuge assembly workshop.  Centrifuges are needed to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, in a statement sent to BBC Persian journalists before the AEOI’s announcement, an unknown group calling itself “Cheetahs of the Homeland” claimed it had attacked the building. The group said its members were part of “underground opposition with Iran’s security apparatus”.

The claim could not immediately be verified by the BBC.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal struck with world powers, said it was aware of the reports from Natanz and currently anticipated no impact on its verification activities.

The incident comes six days after an explosion near the Parchin military complex.

The Iranian authorities said the blast was caused by “leaking gas tanks” at the site, but analysts said satellite photographs showed it happened at a nearby missile production facility…….. Twitter post by @TheGoodISIS

July 4, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Iran | Leave a comment

Lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at U.S. nuclear weapons lab

Lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at U.S. nuclear weapons lab, Science, By Adrian ChoJun. 24, 2020 , An unusual lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of the United States’s three nuclear weapons labs. Peter Williams, a 50-year-old physicist, worked at Livermore from January 2016 until May 2017, when he says he was fired in retaliation for complaining that his superiors were mishandling a computer program that simulates the detonation of high explosives, undermining their ability to predict how a particular nuclear weapon would perform if used. Williams, who now works at a private research lab, has sued Livermore and seven individuals for reinstatement and $600,000 in damages.

Researchers familiar with the labs say Williams’s allegations should be taken seriously. ……

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Legal | Leave a comment

UN nuclear watchdog seeks to inspect old nuclear sites in Iran

UN nuclear watchdog seeks to inspect old nuclear sites in Iran The board of the UN atomic watchdog agency has issued a condemnation of Iran for stonewalling its nuclear inspectors.By Nathan Morley   The United Nations’ atomic agency is continuing to put pressure on Iran.

In a new resolution, the international body has insisted Iran provide access to two sites where nuclear activity may have taken place in the last two-decades.

The resolution, which was put forward by France, Germany, and Britain with support by the United States, was passed by 25 votes in favour.

China and Russia voted against while seven other countries abstained

The UN is calling on the Iranians to satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay. It wants access to two sites in order to clarify whether undeclared nuclear activity took place there in the past.

However, Iran has been blocking access to the sites since early 2020, a move which has fuelled a diplomatic dispute. It is reported that the sites in question are not directly relevant to Iran’s current nuclear programme.

Speaking after the vote, Kazem Gharib Abadi, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, said he strongly rejected the resolution and would respond appropriately in due course.

For its part, the IAEA said it still has the access it needs to inspect Iran’s declared nuclear facilities according to its mandate under the nuclear deal reached in 2015.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Europe’s effort to save Iran nuclear deal

June 20, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump tells Iran they should get “a better deal” with him now, before the U.S. election

Urging Iran to ‘Make the Big Deal,’ Trump Ties Nuclear Negotiations to Election The president’s invitation came as international inspectors were said to have found that Iran had boosted its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in the past three months.

Two years ago, President Trump left what he called a “terrible” and “failed” nuclear deal with Iran that had been negotiated by his predecessor.  By David E. Sanger, Farnaz Fassihi and Rick Gladstone June 5, 2020    WASHINGTON
— President Trump on Friday celebrated the return of an American imprisoned in Iran by urging Tehran to “make the Big deal” on its nuclear program, and dangled the possibility that they would get better terms if they negotiated before the presidential election, seeming to invite Tehran to help return him to office.
Mr. Trump’s offer was immediately rejected by the Iranian leadership, which now seems to harbor doubts that he will remain president, and is hunkering down to survive American-led sanctions until they see the results of the November election.  ……. Ever since Mr. Trump chose to leave what he called a “terrible” and “failed” deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others have said that the combination of escalating sanctions, diplomatic isolation and the threat of possible military force would prompt the Iranian government to come to the negotiating table. So far that has failed, and Mr. Trump’s offer on Friday was a remarkably transparent invitation to an adversary to give him a diplomatic win before what could be a close American election.
“Thank you to Iran,” the president wrTrote in a tweet about the release of a Navy veteran detained in Tehran, Michael R. White. “Don’t wait until after U.S. Election to make the Big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”

Aides to Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump declined to explain why, if the United States was negotiating in its own national interest, Iran might get preferential treatment for negotiating with Mr. Trump before the election……

“We had a deal when you entered office,” Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, responded to Mr. Trump in a tweet on Friday. Iran and the other participants in the 2015 agreement — Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and China — “never left the table,” he said. “Your advisers — most fired by now — made a dumb bet. Up to you to decide *when* you want to fix it.”

Hesameddin Ashena, the top policy adviser to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran also responded. “You are going down on November 3rd and we know that,” he tweeted. “So you’ll need to offer much more than Obama did!”……..

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran challenges Donald Trump to return to nuclear deal

Iran challenges Donald Trump to return to nuclear deal WION News

WION Web Team Tehran, Iran Jun 05, 2020  Seizing on Donald Trump’s conciliatory tone after Tehran released an American Navy veteran, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif challenged the US president on Friday to return to the nuclear deal that Washington abandoned two years ago.

Iran freed Michael White on Thursday as part of a deal in which the United States allowed Iranian-American physician Majid Taheri to visit Iran.

Trump tweeted on Thursday of White’s release: “Thank you to Iran, it shows a deal is possible!”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, addressing Trump, said on Twitter, “We achieved humanitarian swap despite your subordinates’ efforts”.

“We had a deal when you entered office. … Your advisors -most fired by now – made a dumb bet. Up to you to decide when you want to fix it.”…….

June 6, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

The European Union plus France, Germany and the UK “deeply regret” US decision on Iran sanctions

EU and others ‘regret’ US decision on Iran sanctions, WNN 01 June 2020  The European Union plus France, Germany and the UK have said they “deeply regret” the USA’s decision to end three sanction waivers covering Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) projects in Iran. Separately, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said the US decision “hampers” international non-proliferation progress…….

“We deeply regret the US decision to end the three waivers covering key JCPOA nuclear projects in Iran, including the Arak Modernisation Project,” the spokespersons of the High Representatives of the EU and the Foreign Ministries of France, Germany and the UK said in a joint statement issued on 30 May. “These projects, endorsed by UN Security Council resolution 2231, serve the non-proliferation interests of all and provide the international community with assurances of the exclusively peaceful and safe nature of Iranian nuclear activities.

“We are consulting with our partners to assess the consequences of this decision by the United States.

“The JCPOA is a key achievement of the global non-proliferation architecture and currently the best and only way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. That is why we have worked continuously with the aim of ensuring the full and effective implementation of commitments under the JCPOA, in particular the return of Iran to full compliance with its nuclear commitments without delay.”

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, on 29 May said the US decision to end the waiver “hampers” international non-proliferation progress and shared efforts to preserve the JCPOA.

“The Arak reactor conversion is an important part of the JCPOA and a joint project of parties to the agreement,” he said. “China is ready to work with other parties to continue upholding the deal and safeguarding its own legitimate rights and interests.”

The JCPOA was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA – also referred to as the P5+1 – plus the European Union) and implemented in January 2016, clearing the way for the lifting of nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran. Under its terms, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low-enriched uranium over the subsequent 15 years……

US President Donald Trump in 2018 announced the termination of the USA’s participation in the JCPOA, directing the US administration to begin the process of re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear Weapons: The Reason Why Even Iran Fears Israel

Nuclear Weapons: The Reason Why Even Iran Fears Israel, Kyle Mizokami,The National Interest•June 1, 2020

………Israel does not confirm nor deny having nuclear weapons. Experts generally assess the country as currently having approximately eighty nuclear weapons, fewer than countries such as France, China and the United Kingdom, but still a sizeable number considering its adversaries have none. These weapons are spread out among Israel’s version of a nuclear “triad” of land-, air- and sea-based forces scattered in a way that they deter surprise nuclear attack.  …….

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Israel | Leave a comment

Iran envoy says that Trump has pulled the final plug in violating nuclear deal

Ending nuclear waivers pulls final plug in violating resolution 2231: Iran envoy May 29, 2020 – Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, has said that ending sanction waivers for countries remaining in the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, by the United States pulls final plug in violating the resolution 2231.

“Two yrs ago @realDonaldTrump ceased participation in #JCPOA. Now, in further violation of JCPOA & UNSCR 2231 @SecPompeo pulls final plug, imposing penalties for compliance EVEN w/nuclear provisions of 2231,” Takht-Ravanchi tweeted on Thursday.

He added, “Claiming US is STILL ‘Participant’ is not just preposterous; it’s FALSE.”

U.S. President Donald Trump quit the agreement, negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, in May 2018.

But the Trump administration until now had issued waivers to allow companies, primarily from Russia, to keep carrying out the work of the agreement without risking legal ramifications.

However, Washington announced on Wednesday that it was ending the waivers.

Russian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday the U.S. is acting in a dangerous and unpredictable way.

“Washington’s actions are becoming more and more dangerous and unpredictable,” Zakharova told reporters.

“The nature of this behavior is clearly disruptive,” Zakharova said, accusing Washington of undermining international security.

May 30, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump administration to remove almost all sanctions relief to Iran

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

Iran tops the list of countries which accepted inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2019.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s push for nuclear power – a nuclear weapons danger

Arms control experts concerned by Saudi nuclear reactor push, Aljazeera
Satellite images show work progressing on Saudi reactor even though international IAEA inspectors are still frozen out.   
by Jonathan Tirone • Bloomberg. 22 May 2020  Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead to complete its first nuclear reactor, according to satellite images that have raised concern among arms-control experts because the kingdom has yet to implement international monitoring rules.

Satellite photos show the kingdom has built a roof over the facility before putting in place International Atomic Energy Agency regulations that allow inspectors early verification of the reactor’s design. Foregoing on-the-ground monitoring until after the research reactor is completed would be an unusual move normally discouraged under regulations to ensure civilian atomic programs aren’t used to make weapons.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly pledged that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes, but Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman also said the kingdom would develop a bomb if its regional rival Iran did so. Those statements made in 2018 raised a red flag within the nuclear monitoring community which is uneasy that it has more ability to access nuclear sites in Iran than it does in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s ministry of energy didn’t respond to a request to comment.

While Saudi Arabia has been open about its ambitions to generate nuclear power, less is known about the kinds of monitoring the kingdom intends to put in place. President Donald Trump’s administration sent a letter to Saudi Arabia last year setting requirements to access U.S. atomic technology. The baseline for any agreement is tougher IAEA inspections.

…….. At issue is the weak and outdated set of IAEA safeguard rules, called the “Small Quantities Protocol,” or SQP, that Saudi Arabia continues to follow, according to Laura Rockwood, the IAEA’s former chief lawyer who drafted stricter inspection guidelines to which the vast majority of countries adhere.

Satellite images show that a thick lattice of roof beams is now covering the 10-meter (33 feet) high steel reactor vessel. Argentina’s state-owned INVAP SE sold the low-powered research reactor to Saudi Arabia.”The problem is that design-information verification has to be carried out while it’s being constructed,” said Rockwood, who now directs the Open Nuclear Network in Vienna

While Saudi Arabia adheres to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the bedrock agreement that regulates the spread of material needed to induce fission, it still has to implement monitoring rules in line with its nuclear program development.

“Saudi Arabia’s agreement right now is completely minimal, out of date, and unequal to the task of providing the kind of transparency that the IAEA and other member states need about Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program,” said Sharon Squassoni, a researcher and former diplomat on non-proliferation issues at George Washington University.

–With assistance from Verity Ratcliffe

May 22, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran’s Nuclear and Military Efforts in the Shadow of Coronavirus and Economic Collapse

Iran’s Nuclear and Military Efforts in the Shadow of Coronavirus and Economic Collapse, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek    BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,568, May 17, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Notwithstanding the difficult challenges of the coronavirus crisis and a deteriorating economy, Iran is pushing ahead with its uranium enrichment and missile and space programs as well as its activities in Syria. It also has yet to concede to the US in their clash over sailing in the Gulf. Tehran fears that any sign of weakness might endanger the Islamist regime, particularly as resentment continues to grow among ordinary Iranians. With that in mind, it is doing all it can to flex its muscles for both domestic and international audiences………

The latest IAEA report says the agency continues to liaise with Iranian authorities regarding IAEA inspections of natural (non-enriched) uranium particles of an anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) source from an Iranian site that has not yet been declared to IAEA: the warehouse in Turkuzabad, a suburb of Tehran, which was unveiled by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a speech to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2018. According to the BBC on March 3, the IAEA dispatched a document to several member states claiming that Iran has rejected a request to allow inspection access to three other unidentified sites as well. According to the document, the inspectors want to find out if natural uranium is being used at any of the sites from which they are being barred. At another site, the IAEA says there have been activities that are “consistent with efforts to sanitize part of the location.”

Iran’s violations of the nuclear agreement—its raising of the uranium enrichment rate to 4.5% and accumulation of uranium in excess of the 300 kg UF6 limit—does not currently have a military aspect. This is because uranium enriched at a rate of less than 5% is suitable solely as a nuclear fuel for power reactors and cannot be used for nuclear weapons (for which the enrichment degree required is at least 90%). Iranian officials claim these violations are meant to pressure the EU into neutralizing the sanctions imposed on Iran by the US……..

Iran’s overall situation is quite distressing. The Iranian people have lost faith in the regime—especially now, in view of the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. The people (along with the rest of the world) doubt the official casualty figures. At this writing, the regime is claiming about 110,000 cases and about 6,800 deaths, but the true numbers are estimated to be much higher. This distrust became stronger against the backdrop of the authorities’ false reporting of the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet on January 8 after takeoff from Tehran (most of its passengers were either Iranian or of Iranian origin).

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a new blow to the Iranian economy, which had already collapsed in 2018 as a result of US sanctions. The real (the Iranian currency) plummeted to unprecedented lows, and the Iranian street expressed its anger that the regime had wasted so much money on its operations in Syria. According to the London Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat on January 1, 2020, Iranian president Rouhani said damage to the Iranian economy resulting from sanctions by the end of 2019 was $200 billion…….

It is highly doubtful that the Iranian people are ready to eat grass in order to bring the regime’s dreams of an Iranian nuclear bomb to fruition. Though the mullahs’ goal of becoming a regional power that controls Shiite Islam across the Middle East remains unfulfilled, the regime continues to do what it can to demonstrate its power. The object is to show the world that Iran is not capitulating to the US in any way—not regarding its nuclear and space programs, and not militarily. It also seeks to project an image of strength to the increasingly resentful Iranian people, as it fears that signs of weakness could bring an end to its rule. However, the regime’s investments in security at the expense of the nation’s welfare may turn out to boomerang against it.

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | 2 Comments

U.S. Congress kept in the dark about government nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia

U.S. should keep Congress informed about nuclear talks with Saudis: GAO,  Timothy Gardner

6 May 20, WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Departments of State and Energy should commit to regular briefings to relevant committees in Congress on talks about nuclear power cooperation with Saudi Arabia, a congressional watchdog said in a report on Monday.

The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, report said Congress should consider amending the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, or AEA, to require the briefings for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about negotiations on nuclear power sharing.

Lawmakers concerned about nonproliferation issues associated with nuclear power development had complained they were being kept in the dark about Trump administration talks with Saudi Arabia, many of which were led by former Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Concern grew after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS in 2018 that the kingdom did not want to acquire a nuclear bomb, but would do so if its rival Iran did so.

Riyadh could announce a tender this year for two nuclear power reactors, its first commercial ones. Russia, China, South Korea and France have also been in talks about building reactors there.The State Department is required by the AEA to keep Congress “fully and currently informed” about the talks. But the GAO found it was “unclear” whether the department did so. “Congressional staff provided us with examples of having to find information on the negotiations from other sources, such as press articles,” the GAO said.

Some U.S. lawmakers want the United States to insist that Saudi Arabia agree to a so-called gold standard that restricts enrichment and reprocessing, potential pathways to making fissile material for nuclear weapons. The United States struck such an agreement with the United Arab Emirates in 2009. If Saudi Arabia develops nuclear power without the gold standard, the UAE would likely seek to be released from its agreement.

The GAO said Congress should consider whether to amend the AEA to require briefings, perhaps on a quarterly basis, and to specify expectations for the content of the briefings.

Senators Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, had asked the GAO last year to review U.S. agency negotiations with Saudi Arabia on nuclear power, partially because they were concerned the Energy Department, not the State Department took the lead.

The senators said they would explore legislative changes recommended by the GAO. “Congress must reassert its critical role in reviewing nuclear cooperation agreements to ensure these agreements do not pose an unnecessary risk to the United States” they said.

Senators Robert Menendez, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, had asked the GAO last year to review U.S. agency negotiations with Saudi Arabia on nuclear power, partially because they were concerned the Energy Department, not the State Department took the lead.

The senators said they would explore legislative changes recommended by the GAO. “Congress must reassert its critical role in reviewing nuclear cooperation agreements to ensure these agreements do not pose an unnecessary risk to the United States” they said.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | politics, politics international, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment