Iran accuses Israel of hiring assassins to take out nuclear scientists http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4933589,00.html
Iranian rep. at International Atomic Energy Agency describes Israel as a threat to entire Middle East, claims it targeted Iranian experts and criticizes Israel for not joining Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Europe should act fast to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Ellie Geranmayeh, 2 FEBRUARY 2017 US President Donald Trump has stirred all kinds of controversy with European allies during his first fortnight in office. Now, his administration’s evolving policy on Iran is becoming another source of concern across the Atlantic. Europe has a crucial but short window to clearly outline its position on the Iran nuclear deal in ways that could influence policymakers in Washington. In doing so, Europe should focus on preserving the agreement under existing terms as enshrined by the United Nations, and charting a course that minimizes confrontation—whether intentional or accidental—between Iran and the United States in an already turbulent Middle East.
On Wednesday, new National Security Advisor Michael Flynn declared that the United States was “putting Iran on notice.” While it is not clear what exactly he meant, he also criticized Iran’s missiles tests and behavior in the region, calling Tehran’s actions “provocative” and staking out a US position distinctly different from those of Europe and Russia. Although Flynn didn’t directly attack the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, a war of words could easily escalate in ways that threaten it.
The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), scaled back the country’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. As a presidential candidate, Trump suggested he would “dismantle the disastrous deal” or renegotiate it. As president-elect he condemned the deal, but has since said he would “rigorously” enforce it. And during a White House briefing the same day as Flynn’s comments, US officials stressed “that they were not linking Iran’s missile and regional actions to the nuclear deal at this point,” as Al-Monitor reported. On Thursday, though, Trump tweeted that Iran “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them.” Going forward, it seems likely that Trump’s calculations over the nuclear deal and sanctions will be influenced by developments on non-nuclear issues and also events abroad—among Russia, US allies in Europe, the Gulf Arab states, and Israel.
An early test of the US administration’s stance will come this spring, when the president is required to renew sanctions waivers that enable non-US companies to do business with Iran, in accordance with the terms of the nuclear deal. ……
The Iran nuclear deal steered the United States and its allies away from resorting to yet another futile military encounter in the Middle East. It was never intended to solve every problem between the West and Iran, and the two sides continue to take opposing views on a number of critical issues. However, the agreement has proven that Iran and the West have the capacity to resolve complex security challenges through a transactional relationship if there are mutually beneficial outcomes. Instead of watching Tehran and Washington relapse into the rhetoric of war and conflict, Europe should encourage them to build on this winning formula. http://thebulletin.org/europe-should-act-fast-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal10488
Iran tested nuclear-capable cruise missile: German newspaper http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-missiles-cruise-idUSKBN15H0WR?il=0 eb 2, 2017
Iran has tested a cruise missile called “Sumar” that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, German newspaper Die Welt reported Thursday, citing unspecified intelligence sources.
No comment was immediately available from Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency or from Iranian authorities.
The newspaper said the Sumar cruise missile was built in Iran and traveled around 600 km in its first known successful test. The missile is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons and may have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 km, the paper said, citing intelligence sources.
Cruise missiles are harder to counter than ballistic missiles since they fly at lower altitudes and can evade enemy radar, confounding missile defense missiles and hitting targets deep inside an opponent’s territory.
But the biggest advantage from Iran’s point of view, a security expert told Die Welt, was that cruise missiles are not mentioned in any United Nations resolutions that ban work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
International sanctions on Tehran were lifted in January last year under a nuclear deal brokered in 2015 by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States.
Under the nuclear deal Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of most sanctions. According to a 2015 U.N. resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still called upon to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
News of Iran’s reported cruise missile test came hours after Washington said it was putting Iran “on notice” for its ballistic missile test and signaled that it could impose new sanctions.
Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said the test did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
(Writing by Andrea Shalal, Addirional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; editing by Ralph Boulton)
Iran, ROSATOM sign roadmap for nuclear cooperation http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/410263/Iran-ROSATOM-sign-roadmap-for-nuclear-cooperation January 20, 2017 TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Russian ROSATOM signed on Thursday a roadmap for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The document was signed in Russia by Behrouz Kamalvandi, the AEOI deputy chief, and Nickolay Spasskiy, ROSATOM deputy director general, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding in Nov. 11, 2014.
Also, the two sides finalized a pre-project contract for the retrofitting of two gas centrifuge cascades in the Fordo facility.
The documents were approved and prepared for signing as a result of recent negotiations between the AEOI and ROSATOM.
The agreement is in line with a 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which resulted in removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.
Under the deal, Iran has committed to convert the Fordo facility into a nuclear, physics and technology center to benefit from international collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships in agreed areas of research.
Also, by the accord, two of the six centrifuge cascades at the Fordo facility have to spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification, for stable isotope production.
Stable isotopes are used for medical and industrial purposes.
Iran launched a facility to produce raw material for stable isotopes in August 2016.
Also, in an August interview with Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We will further assist our Iranian partners in implementing the Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, including the processing of enriched uranium and the conversion of facilities to produce stable isotopes.”
Head of U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran showing commitment to deal http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-amano-idUSKBN147083?il=0
Iran has shown commitment to the deal on its nuclear program agreed with world powers, the head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said on Sunday, following complaints by Tehran over what it calls a U.S. violation of the accord.
The White House said on Thursday that a bill extending U.S. sanctions against Iran for 10 years would become law without President Barack Obama’s signature, adding this would not affect overall implementation of the nuclear agreement.
“We are satisfied with the implementation of the (agreement) and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano was quoted as telling reporters in Tehran by the IRNA news agency.
“Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” Amano was quoted as saying after meeting Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi.
In response to the U.S. sanctions extension, Iran ordered its scientists last week to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels.
That action is expected to worsen tensions with Washington, already heightened by a promise by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s to scrap the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Amano on Sunday and “expressed hope Iran and the IAEA will be able to have good technical cooperation on nuclear propulsion for transports”, the semi-official Fars news agency said.
Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said he presented the nuclear propulsion project to Amano during their meeting, adding that Iran would provide details of it in three months, IRNA reported.
Nuclear experts have said that Iran’s move, if carried out, would probably require Tehran to enrich uranium to a fissile purity above the maximum level set in the nuclear deal to allay fears of the country building an atomic bomb.
Salehi said the fuel used for nuclear propulsion could range between 5 and 90 percent in enrichment, but added: “We will certainly act within the framework of the (agreement),” IRNA reported.
Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels, according to experts.
Iran on Saturday also requested a meeting of a commission comprising representatives of signatories to the accord that is overseeing its implementation.
(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky)
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships as he accuses US of ‘violating’ deal http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-powered-war-ships-response-us-sanctions-a7471566.html
Leader mounting legal challenge against US trade restrictions Harriet Agerholm @HarrietAgerholm Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start planning the development of nuclear-powered ships in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of their nuclear deal.
Earlier in December the US Senate voted to extend the Iran Sanctions Act by 10 years, a decision that was criticised by the Iranian foreign minister at the time who said it showed the US government had “a lack of credibility”.
In a letter read out on Tuesday on state television, Mr Rouhani condemned the move as a breach of the 2015 nuclear accord and told the nation’s scientists to begin “planning the design and production of fuel and nuclear power plants for maritime transport”.
The leader also said he had ordered the foreign minister to mount a legal challenge against the US.
The 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers lifted a variety of sanctions against the nation in exchange for restrictions on the Iranian nuclear programme.
Yet the US keeps its own set of trade restrictions against the country – separate from the agreement – which were set to expire at the end of the year.
Politicians in the Senate said the sanctions were extended not only because of nuclear issues, but also over concerns about ballistic missile-testing and human rights in the country.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the extension into law in the coming days.
The nuclear marine propulsion technology Iran has vowed to develop uses a nuclear reactor to generate electricity on a ship. Tensions in the Middle East have grown since the US elected Donald Trump as President, Iran’s defence minister said on Sunday.
Nuclear agreement not a deal solely between U.S. and Iran: Daryl Kimball, Tehran Times By Javad Heirannia December 13, 2016 TEHRAN – Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, says the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran that can be unilaterally abrogated by the incoming administration of Donald Trump.
“The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran,” Kimball tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.
Kimball says, “If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Q: During presidential campaigns Donald Trump said he would “renegotiate” the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran. What is your prediction?
A: Yes, Mr. Trump did pledge to “dismantle” the 2015 agreement between six world powers and Iran, which has led to verifiable limits on Iran’s capacity to produce material that could be used for nuclear weapons, allowed Iran to continue peaceful nuclear activities, and led to the removal of nuclear-related international sanctions — a win-win scenario for both sides.
It is not clear at this point whether and how Trump would seek to do this or why. Trump’s campaign statements on many issues appear to have been designed to pander to hard-right elements of the Republican Party in order to obtain votes and to criticize the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton………..
Q: If Trump violates the JCPOA, how will Washington’s European allies and JCPOA parties react?
A: If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.
The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran. Washington worked with Russia, China, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to build an international sanctions regime to pressure Iran to the negotiating table and then reach a deal to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. None of these countries have any intention of walking away from the agreement, which is working well for them, and the people of Iran.
If the United States administration or Congress takes actions that violate the JCPOA (such as failing to renew waivers of nuclear-related sanctions under the “Iran Sanctions Act”) or measures that are clearly designed to provoke Iran to take actions that would violation the JCPOA, I think it very likely that the United States’ P5+1 partners will resist such actions and seek to insulate the JCPOA as much as possible. Many American foreign policy experts and a significant majority of the American people would also question such a cynical and counterproductive move…….
If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments. After sending such a message to the international community, Trump would be hard-pressed to build an international sanctions coalition strong enough to push Iran back to the negotiating table.
On the other hand, if the IAEA finds that Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the deal, however minor the infraction, it is likely that hard-liners in Congress and in the Trump administration will seek to use this as a reason to blame Iran and walk away from the deal and reimpose sanctions. This makes it essential, in my view, for Iran to continue to meet its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/409095/Nuclear-agreement-not-a-deal-solely-between-U-S-and-Iran-Daryl
Rouhani: we won’t let Trump tear up US–Iran nuclear deal
Iranian president says 10-year extension of US sanctions could be violation of the accord signed in July 2015, Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran 7 Dec 16 The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has said his country will not allow Donald Trump to tear up the landmark nuclear agreement with the west as he warned that an extension of sanctions, which passed Congress last week, could be a violation of the deal.
Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections has raised questions about whether the landmark nuclear accord, signed in July 2015, has a future. Its fate could affect Rouhani’s chances of re-election in May.
“Iran is the only country that, as our supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] stated, would neither mourn nor celebrate [Trump’s] coming to power,” Rouhani said on Tuesday at Tehran University. “We would follow our own path.”
Rouhani said the US president-elect “may wish many things, he may wish to weaken or tear up Barjam,” referring to the Persian acronym for the joint comprehensive plan of action (or the nuclear deal), “but will we and our nation allow such a thing? America cannot influence our path of strength and endurance.”……
The Iranian president said the removal of nuclear-related sanctions had already borne fruit. “In regards to sanctions, except for banking restrictions, all sanctions have been removed 100%.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/06/hassan-rouhani-us-iran-nuclear-deal-trump-tear-up-sanctions
Iran Loses Nuclear Device, Sparks GCC Worry , Oil Price,
Aside from the security concerns, at the forefront in the GCC’s mind is what impact the radioactive device—wherever it may be today—could have on water supplies.
According to the newspaper, the device went missing after the car transporting it was stolen. Thankfully, the vehicle was recovered, but the radioactive nuclear device was not so lucky.
Most members of the GCC – which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – desalinate sea water from the Gulf. If contamination from the device were to reach desalination stations, an already critical situation becomes even more critical.
The missing device is set to lose half of its power after 74 days of inactivity, Tamimi said, noting that it still should be handled with care even after that period……..http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Iran-Loses-Nuclear-Device-Sparks-GCC-Worry.html
Obama Seeks to Fortify Iran Nuclear Deal New steps weighed include licenses for more American businesses and lifting additional U.S. sanctions, WSJ, By CAROL E. LEE in Lima, Peru, and JAY SOLOMON in Washington Nov. 20, 2016
The Obama administration is considering new measures in its final months in office to strengthen the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, senior U.S. officials said, with President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointments foreshadowing an increasingly rocky road for the controversial deal.
Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions.
The effort to shore up the agreement was under way before the election and is not aimed at boxing in Mr. Trump, who opposes the deal, the officials said. Officials also acknowledged the proposals are unlikely to make the nuclear agreement more difficult to undo.
Mr. Trump’s first two picks for his national security team—retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser
and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) as Central Intelligence Agency director—are hard-liners on Iran who have voiced opposition to the nuclear deal…..
Administration officials said they haven’t yet begun conversations on the Iran deal with the officials Mr. Trump has deployed across the government to facilitate his transition into office. They also are unsure whether those Trump officials are the ones they need to persuade.
The picture they plan to articulate for Mr. Trump’s team is stark: If the agreement falls apart, and the U.S. is blamed for its collapse, Iran would resume its nuclear program more aggressively. In that case, the U.S. risks alienating Europe, as well as China and Russia, and limiting its ability to use sanctions again to contain Iran. Military action against Tehran’s nuclear facilities, these officials argue, could be the only alternative…….http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-seeks-to-fortify-iran-nuclear-deal-1479692853
Report: 12 members of nuclear negotiating team arrested by Iran for espionage, Jerusalem Post, 18 Nov 16 At least a dozen senior officials who were part of the negotiating team that conducted talks with the west regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program were arrested by Iranian authorities on espionage charges, Channel 2 citing an Iranian member of parliament reported Friday.
Iranian MP Husein Al Haj said earlier this week that some of those arrested had dual citizenship but he did not disclose their identities or nationalities.
Government controlled media in Iran did not comment or acknowledge the arrests but Arab media outlets have been covering the story quite extensively.
Iranian authorities earlier in the year had carried out a similar arrest against another member of the negotiating unit, claiming the suspect was a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team.”
The suspect was later released on bail but was still under investigation at the time, former Iranian minister of intelligence Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a news conference on August 28…..http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Iranians-officials-arrested-for-spying-473021
Reuters 2 Oct 16 Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told French daily Le Monde.
Confirming the findings of a confidential report by the U.N. agency seen by Reuters last month, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Tehran had observed the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by skeptics in the West.
“The deal is being implemented since January without any particular problem,” he told Le Monde in an interview published on Saturday……. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-idUSKCN1213DX
Iran says some sanctions under nuclear deal still in place WP, By George Jahn | AP September 26 VIENNA — Indirectly warning the United States, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency said Monday that his country’s landmark nuclear deal with could be jeopardized by foot-dragging on sanctions relief, promised in exchange for Tehran’s commitment to curb key atomic activities. But a senior U.S. official said Washington is delivering on its commitments.
Iran complains that international financial sanctions are not being lifted quickly enough under the agreement with the U.S. and five other world powers that stipulates a removal of these and other penalties imposed over Tehran’s nuclear program. Tehran in turn agreed to limit atomic pursuits that could be used to make a bomb.
Nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi did not blame particular countries in comments to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference. But other Iranian officials have faulted the United States for perceived delays in lifting financial sanctions, and Salehi warned that the deal’s “durability” depended on the other side’s “reciprocal and full implementation.”
“Comprehensive and expeditious removal of all sanctions” outlined in the agreement “have yet to be met,” even though Iran is honoring all its obligations under the pact, he said…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-says-some-sanctions-under-nuclear-deal-still-in-place/2016/09/26/10e92782-83d7-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f_story.html
West failing to deliver nuclear deal promises, says Iran vice-president
Ali Akbar Salehi attacks lack of progress on banking transactions and trade eight months after landmark agreement, Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, 17 Sept 16, Iran has fully complied with its commitments under last year’s landmark nuclear agreement, but eight months after the official removal of sanctions, the west is failing to deliver on its promises, the country’s vice president has told the Guardian.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation, said that if the agreement was to remain intact, both sides had to meet their commitments.
The US-educated scientist, who also served as a former foreign minister of Iran, was the second most senior Iranian negotiator in nearly two years of talks between Tehran and world’s six leading powers that led to the final nuclear accord, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), in Vienna in July 2015. The deal was implemented in January, and triggered the removal of sanctions.
“As has been stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has remained committed to its commitments,” Salehi said. “While the other side – it’s very clear now to public opinion and it’s not a secret – has not really delivered on the promises; that the sanctions would be removed and that banking transactions would go back to normal, that trade would speed up and economic relations would be enhanced. These have not been materialised to the extent that we expected.”……..
Although nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January, big European banks remain reluctant to do business with Iran. European banks are concerned about existing US sanctions relating to terrorism as well as uncertainty in the US before the election of a new president…….
The banking issue has prevented Iran from capitalising on the interest shown by western businesses in returning to the country, or finalising lucrative deals with the west, such as the purchase of planes from Airbus and Boeing. Iran’s central bank chief told the Guardian in May that Tehran was still locked out of global financial system……..
The fate of the nuclear agreement will affect the next presidential elections in Iran, which are scheduled for spring next year. President Hassan Rouhani is seeking re-election and opponents, including former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have indicated their willingness to challenge him. Rouhani would have to show Iranians tangible relief from sanctions if he is to maintain their support.
Relations between Tehran and London have significantly improved since the nuclear agreement, with both sides appointing new ambassadors in their respective capitals this month after nearly a five-year hiatus. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/16/west-failing-deliver-nuclear-deal-promises-iran-vice-president-ali-akbar-salehi
Iran Starts Construction On Second Nuclear Plant With Russian Help Radio Free Europe, September 10, 2016 Iran has begun building a second nuclear power plant with Russian help, Iranian and Russian media are reporting.
The project, known as Busherh-2, was officially launched on September 10 in the southern port city of Bushehr. The project will cost around $10 billion and produce 1,057 megawatts of electricity. The project is expected to be completed in 10 years.
It’s Iran’s first nuclear power project since the country reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in July 2015. It will be built by Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear power company.
Iran’s sole operational nuclear reactor — also built with Russian assistance in Bushehr — produces 1,000 megawatts. It went online in 2011, and the two countries have agreed to cooperate on future projects.
The Bushehr plant is not considered a proliferation risk because Russia supplies the fuel for the reactor and takes away spent fuel that could otherwise be used to make weapons-grade plutonium….http://www.rferl.org/content/iran-bushehr-2-nuclear-power-plant-russia/27978982.html