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UN urges Iran to co-operate with UN regulatory agency

Time is of the essence’ in Iran co-operation: UN nuclear watchdog Channel News Asia, 8 Sept 19, 

VIENNA: The acting head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Monday (Sep 9) called on Iran to “respond promptly” to the agency’s questions regarding Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Cornel Feruta was addressing the quarterly board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a day after meeting high-level Iranian officials in Tehran.

He said that in his meetings he “stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations”, adding: “Time is of the essence.”

Earlier Monday, the IAEA confirmed that Iran was installing advanced centrifuges, a move that puts further pressure on the troubled 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The IAEA’s latest statements come a day after Tehran hit out at European powers, saying they had left Iran little option but to scale back its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)…….

Iran has said that notwithstanding its reduction of commitments under the JCPOA, it will continue to allow access to IAEA inspectors who monitor its nuclear programme…….–in-iran-co-operation–un-nuclear-watchdog-11888270


September 10, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal

France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal By Sara Dorn, France will continue pressuring Iran to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal, a top official said Saturday.

“We must do everything we can to contribute to ease tensions with Iran and to ensure navigation safety,” French defense minister Florence Parly said during a joint press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Paris.

“We can only confirm our goal, which is to bring Iran to fully respect the Vienna deal,” Parly said.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials said Saturday the country has begun using centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key ingredient for nuclear weapons.

Iran ramped up its nuclear activity in July in response to President Trump’s reinstatement of sanctions that were nixed during the nuclear deal made with Iran and world leaders in Vienna in 2015.

Iran has said it would come back into compliance with the pact if Europe helps the country work around the US sanctions to sell crude oil on the international marketplace.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif visits G-7 Summit

Top Iranian Official Makes Surprise G-7 Summit Visit Amid Nuclear Talks

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is under U.S. sanctions, was invited to the gathering by France’s foreign minister.   SYLVIE CORBET, LORI HINNANT and DARLENE SUPERVILLE BIARRITZ, France (AP) 25 Aug 19, — A top Iranian official paid an unannounced visit Sunday to the G-7 summit and headed straight to the buildings where leaders of the world’s major democracies have been debating how to handle the country’s nuclear ambitions.

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran working productively with France, to save nuclear deal

August 24, 2019 Posted by | France, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor,

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor, Michael West, by Prof. Clinton Fernandes — 23 August 2019  Wikileaks cables reveal Iran presents no threat to Australia and little threat to the US. Instead, clear intelligence from the US, Australia and Iran confirms Iran, although portrayed as aggressive, has pursued a defensive military strategy. Clinton Fernandez reports.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Iran, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran can follow the Israeli nuclear example, or the Egyptian one

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

Iran intends to restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor

Iran intends to restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, CNBC, JUL 28 2019  

  • Heavy water can be employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads.
  • In May Iran announced planned measures to breach the nuclear agreement with major world powers following the U.S. withdrawal from deal……..
  • On July 3, President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would increase its uranium enrichment levels and start to revive its Arak heavy-water reactor after July 7 if the nations in the nuclear pact did not protect trade with Iran promised under the deal but blocked by the U.S. sanctions.

Foreign forces would stoke regional tension: Rouhani

The presence of foreign forces would be the main source of tension in the Gulf, said on Sunday in a meeting with Oman’s foreign minister in Tehran, according to the official presidency website……….

Britain’s seizure of Iranian tanker is a violation of the nuclear deal: Iranian deputy foreign minister……….

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Constructive talks between Iran and Europe, but no definite result

Emergency talks on nuclear deal constructive but inconclusive, Iranian minister says WP, By Adam Taylor, July 28 

DUBAI — Iran’s deputy foreign minister said Sunday that an emergency meeting in Vienna between Tehran and its partners in the Iran nuclear deal had yielded positive developments but had not “resolved everything.”

The atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good,” Abbas Araghchi told reporters.

Araghchi said he and his partners from Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union remain determined to save the deal.

The fate of the agreement remains uncertain after the Trump administration pulled out last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran. That move prompted Tehran to scale back its commitments under the pact.

Iran said this month it had breached a stockpile limit for low enriched uranium allowed under the deal and was enriching uranium at a higher levelthan permitted. Officials have said they will continue to reduce their obligations if the remaining parties to the deal do not help alleviate Iran’s economic isolation.

Salehi also said Iran was moving to restart activity at the heavy-water nuclear reactor at its Arak facility, according to the reports.

Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and its heavy-water nuclear reactor were restricted under the 2015 deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, for fear that they could be used by Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program.

To be used in nuclear weapons, uranium must be highly enriched. The JCPOA placed a limit on the amount of enriched uranium Iran could possess and the level to which it could be enriched.

The claim that Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile had exceeded the 300-kilogram limit was subsequently confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But in Iranian media on Sunday, Salehi was reported to have said that it went further than this………

The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Analysts see Arak’s heavy-water reactor as a risk for proliferation because it could allow Iran to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The nuclear deal required Iran to pour concrete into the pipes of the reactor’s core as part of a redesign.

Salehi said last week that the redesign, in partnership with China and Britain, was making progress. Britain replaced the United States in the project after the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal.

In his meeting with lawmakers on Sunday, Salehi was reported to have said that the developments were not indicative of an intent to produce nuclear weapons. 

We do not intend to produce nuclear weapons because of religious reasons,” lawmaker Mehrdad Lahouti quoted Salehi as saying, according to the Iranian Students News Agency.

Though Iran and Britain are working together on the heavy-water reactor, relations between the countries have been tense in recent weeks, since British marines helped seize an Iranian-flagged tanker near Gibraltar and Iran seized a British-flagged tanker that was passing the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

July 29, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran links tanker row to nuclear deal

At crisis talks, Iran links tanker row to nuclear deal, Aljazeera 29 Jul 19
Envoys from UK, Germany, France, Russia, China and Iran met in Vienna to discuss how to salvage historic 2015 pact. 
Iran considers Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker a breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior official said on Sunday, as remaining signatories to the ailing accord met in the Austrian capital for emergency talks.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran have been trying to salvage the landmark pact since the United States withdrew from it in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, crippling an already weak economy.

Iran-Europe ties are under strain, however, after British authorities detained an Iranian oil tanker carrying two million barrels of crude off the coast of Gibraltar earlier in July.  They cited alleged violations of European Union sanctions against Syria for the move.

Days later, Iranian forces impounded a British-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz. ……..

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran makes ‘substantial’ nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran’s diplomatic offer on nuclear inspections meets with USA scepticism

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran still committed to the nuclear accord, but will decrease its commitment if other signatories cannot help

Iran Threatens to Revert to Pre-2015 Nuclear Development Levels, By VOA News, July 15, 2019 Iran threatened Monday to revert its nuclear development program to pre-2015 levels before it agreed to restraints under an international accord if the European countries and the United States that were signatories to the deal fail to help its economy.

“If the Europeans and the Americans don’t want to carry out their duties… we will decrease our commitments and… reverse the conditions to four years ago,” the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted atomic agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying.

“These actions are not out of obstinacy,” Kamalvandi said. “It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side [can] come to their senses and carry out their duties.”

The international pact called for sanctions relief for Tehran as it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program. But U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic that have hobbled its economy and cut its international oil exports. Tehran has contended that Europe has not done enough to help it overcome the effects of the U.S. sanctions.

In the last month, Iran has exceeded the size of the uranium stockpile and the uranium enrichment level permitted under the pact. The deal also was signed by Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia, all of which have remained in the pact even as they have criticized Iran for deviating from its provisions.

Iran’s foreign ministry said it would stay committed to the accord at the same level as the other signatories stay committed to it.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the deal “isn’t dead yet,” and that while the opportunity to find a resolution to the current crisis surrounding the agreement is closing, it is still possible to keep it alive.

He spoke ahead of talks with other European Union foreign ministers in Brussels where they planned to discuss the Iran situation.

Iran has long said its nuclear program was solely for peaceful purposes, and it won badly needed relief from sanctions in return for limiting its nuclear activity far below what would be needed to make a weapon.

Hunt said Monday that Iran was more than a year away from having the capability to build a nuclear device.

Hunt’s comments came a day after the publication of cables from former British ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, who was critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying he did it as a snub to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

In a May 2018 cable, Darroch wrote that the Trump administration, in abrogating the Iran deal last year, “is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal.”

The Mail on Sunday published Darroch’s message back to London, days after he resigned and a week after the newspaper published other leaked cables. In the earlier memos, the diplomat described the U.S. leader as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent” and his administration as “uniquely dysfunctional.”

Darroch resigned from his post Wednesday, saying his three-year posting in Washington had become untenable with the disclosure of his cables.

The leaked cables were meant to be seen only by senior British ministers and civil servants. British officials launched an investigation of the leaks but did not deny the accuracy of Darroch’s comments, expressing the opinion that the person likely responsible for the leak was someone inside the British government, not a foreign power……..

July 16, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse’, Press TV,  Jul 5, 2019 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran’s decision to scale down its commitments under the JCPOA is indeed aimed at protecting the multilateral deal, not killing it.

Back on May 8, Iran notified its remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments in reaction to the US’ unilateral withdrawal and Europe’s failure to live up to its commitments.

Speaking in an exclusive email interview with The New York Times published on Thursday night, Zarif said Iran made the decision as it “can indeed prevent the deal from total collapse.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “was and remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue,” Zarif said, adding that its total collapse “will be detrimental to the interests of all, including the US.”

He said Iran “will remain committed to the deal as long as the remaining participants (EU, France, Germany, UK, Russia and China) observe the deal.”

“Survival or collapse of the JCPOA depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking. In a nutshell, a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally,” Zarif said.

He also said that Iran’s decision to reduce its commitments was taken in line with its legal rights under paragraphs 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal, saying, “Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West.

As part of the first phase of scaling down its commitments, Iran exceeded the 300-kilogram limit set by the JCPOA on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles……….

The JCPOA obliges the European partners to prove their commitment to the nuclear deal in action, Zarif said, adding that the Islamic Republic would commit to the agreement in exactly the same way as those countries would.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the Iran nuclear deal actually works

“I think in Iran, we are pretty confident that there is no undeclared plant”

How the Iran nuclear deal works, explained in 3 minutes

Iran is enriching uranium and breaking the limit set by the nuclear deal. Here’s what that means.

Uranium enrichment is a critical step in making nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. VOX, By Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment level of 3.67 percent set in the 2015 nuclear deal it made with world powers, a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency said, according to reports Monday.

The deal put tight restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the loosening of some international sanctions on the country. The 3.67 percent limitation on uranium enrichment purity was one of many limits in the deal meant to keep Iran from gathering enough material to build an atom bomb in a year if it chose to (Iran has never officially said it wants a nuclear weapon).

On Sunday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said Iran would begin enriching uranium to 4.5 percent for its Bushehr power plant.

“This is to protect the nuclear deal, not to nullify it. … This is an opportunity for talks. And if our partners fail to use this opportunity, they should not doubt our determination to leave the deal,” Araghchi said.

The 4.5 percent enrichment is still well below the 90 percent considered weapons-grade. But the violation of the deal is a move meant “to pressure Europe to reset the terms of the nuclear agreement following a US withdrawal from the pact last year,” according to the Washington Post.

Given the extraordinary destructive power of a nuclear weapon, keeping a close eye on enrichment around the world is critical to global security. But in the decades since the Manhattan Project, the enrichment process has gone from a massive, power-hungry, brute-force operation to a sophisticated and potentially clandestine affair.

Since it’s immensely important in international diplomacy right now, it’s worthwhile to understand what goes into enriching nuclear material, how the nuclear process works, and the strategies for keeping it in check………

Given the extraordinary destructive power of a nuclear weapon, keeping a close eye on enrichment around the world is critical to global security. But in the decades since the Manhattan Project, the enrichment process has gone from a massive, power-hungry, brute-force operation to a sophisticated and potentially clandestine affair.

Since it’s immensely important in international diplomacy right now, it’s worthwhile to understand what goes into enriching nuclear material, how the nuclear process works, and the strategies for keeping it in check.

Under the NPT, countries that don’t currently possess nuclear weapons are prevented from developing or spreading nuclear weapons technologies, but they can pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes like research or energy.

In 2003, Iran was found to have violated nuclear activity reporting requirements in the NPT, which spurred the international effort to get Iran to suspend its enrichment work. The US has argued that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium since it was caught violating some of the safeguards imposed by the NPT, though Iran has not violated the treaty itself.

The goal of the six countries that signed the JCPOA with Iran in 2015 was to limit what is called “breakout time.” That is, how long it would take Iran to enrich enough material for a nuclear weapon if the country suddenly decided to ditch all international agreements and aggressively ramp up enrichment.

Prior to the agreement, Iran’s breakout time was estimated at four to six weeks. The provisions of the deal (Vox’s Zack Beauchamp put together an excellent explainer on this) aimed to extend this to more than a year, which would give international observers time to detect such a shift and enact countermeasures.

In short, the agreement made Iran limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent and decommission about 14,000 of its centrifuges, allowing just roughly 5,000 of Iran’s first-generation units to keep spinning. These IR-1 centrifuges produce between 0.75 and 1 SWU per device, whereas the IR-8 centrifuges Iran was developing at the time of the deal could theoretically manage 24 SWU, making them much more efficient.

Iran also gave up much of its low-enriched uranium stockpile, going from 25,000 pounds to 660 pounds. Iranian officials also agreed to pour concrete into their Arak reactor, a potential source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

In addition, the JCPOA requires round-the-clock monitoring of Iran’s enrichment facilities in Fordow and Natanz, with only the Natanz facility allowed to operate. These are likely the only places where Iran can enrich uranium for a weapon.

“I think in Iran, we are pretty confident that there is no undeclared plant,” said Alex Glaser, director of the Nuclear Futures Laboratory at Princeton University.

International observers are also monitoring Iran’s uranium mining operations.

As it stands, the agreement effectively eliminates Iran’s prospects for enriching enough uranium for a civilian nuclear program and makes it much more tedious to gather the material required for a weapon. What little enrichment Iran is allowed under the deal is effectively a face-saving measure.

But, critics argue, pausing Iran’s entire nuclear enrichment apparatus only extends the breakout time by a few months since the country could just rebuild or reinstall its centrifuges if it decided to leave the agreement. And it looks like that day may be getting closer: a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said Monday that the agency may increase the enrichment level to 20 percent or reinstall centrifuges.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief says -The world knows Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapon

The world knows Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapon: Guards chief (Reuters) – The world knows that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, said on Monday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity as its next potential big moves away from a 2015 nuclear agreement that Washington abandoned last year.

Why do they globally sanction us about the nuclear issue when the world knows that we are not pursuing a weapon? In reality they are sanctioning us because of knowledge,” he said. “Nuclear weapons have no place in Islam. Islam never approves of weapons of mass destruction.”

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Editing by William Maclean


July 9, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment