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
Iran Nuclear Deal Likely to Survive Next Administration, Real Clear World, By Barbara Slavin, September 07, 2016 Barbara Slavin is the Acting Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council and Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor. This article was created in collaboration with the Atlantic Council. The views expressed are solely those of the author.
Like a car that has lost its new car smell and has a few nicks on its bumpers, the nuclear agreement reached last year between Iran and six world powers is showing some wear just nine months after its full implementation.
But the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is known, has survived efforts to wreck it by opponents in both Iran and the United States, and the deal is likely to endure into the next U.S. administration.
The problems with the agreement relate more to underlying hostility between the United States and Iran, which have not had normal diplomatic relations since 1980.
Seeking to prove that the JCPOA does not mean appeasement of the Great Satan, Iranian hardliners have stepped up provocative actions including arresting dual nationals, testing ballistic missiles, and harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly warned Iranian government officials not to negotiate with the United States on non-nuclear matters, even as senior diplomats continue to meet to review implementation of the nuclear agreement and to discuss a potential settlement to the war in Syria.
On the American side, Republicans and some Democratic hawks have been quick to pounce on any negative Iranian action as proof that the JCPOA has failed. Critics recently seized on a report by the Wall Street Journal claiming that the Obama administration paid $400 million in cash to Iran after four Iranian-Americans and a fifth American citizen were freed from custody on Implementation Day.
In fact, the payment was not “ransom” for the Americans but reimbursement to Iran for weapons that had been purchased before the revolution and never delivered. The Americans were swapped for seven Iranian nationals held in U.S. prisons for sanctions violations……..
Confronting the Islamic State group, dealing with Russia, the ramifications of British exit from the European Union, and the challenges of climate change are likely to take precedence over Iran for both candidates.
Even Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rarely mentions Iran these days; Israeli security experts privately praise the JCPOA for postponing an Iran nuclear crisis for at least another decade.
Of course, the Middle East has a tendency to insert itself into U.S. foreign policy debates in unpredictable ways. But Iran has been relatively stable in the face of the crises afflicting many of its neighbors. A President Clinton or Trump is more likely to have to deal with political turmoil in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq.
As for the future of U.S.-Iran relations, much will depend on Tehran and whether the supreme leader’s successor feels the same need to maintain animosity toward the United States as a prop to regime survival. Both countries’ citizens would benefit from restoring diplomatic relations and working toward common ground. But if real peace is not yet possible, at least the JCPOA has drastically reduced the chances for another Middle East war. http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2016/09/07/iran_nuclear_deal_likely_to_survive_next_administration.html
IAEA: Iran Not Cheating on Nuclear Deal KEVIN DRUM SEP. 8, 2016 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, a report by the U.N. nuclear agency found.
The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by Reuters did not point to any violations in Tehran’s observance of the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by skeptics in the West. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/iaea-iran-not-cheating-nuclear-deal
Media Trumpet Another Phony “Secret Nuclear Deal” Story , 08 September 2016 By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis Two major media outlets — Reuters and The Washington Post — pushed another Iran “secret side deal” story last week, ignoring obvious facts that revealed it as clever political deception aimed at sabotaging the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Stories in both of those outlets suggested that a leading think tank had revealed a secret deal that allowed Iran to exceed various qualitative and quantitative limits placed on it under the nuclear agreement reached last year — the main current theme of political opponents of the agreement. The stories were based on claims in a report co-authored by David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, who has long been treated by corporate media as the leading “independent” expert on Iran’s nuclear program.
In fact, as Truthout revealed in 2014, Albright had abandoned any independence he had maintained on Iran as early as 2008 and had aligned his position on nuclear negotiations with Iran with those of the Bush administration and Israel…….
Albright’s attack on the Obama administration and the Joint Commission was only the latest installment in the current campaign by pro-Israeli media and political opponents of the JCPOA to claim existence of “secret side deals” between the Obama administration and Iran. Just six weeks ago, the Associated Press correspondent in Vienna, George Jahn, published a story that falsely portrayed Iran’s report to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on its plan for implementation of the agreement as such a “secret side deal.” The agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA on the issue of alleged past Iranian nuclear work, which included arrangements for taking environmental samples at Iran’s Parchin military facility, was also treated by JCPOA opponents as a “secret side deal.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37527-media-trumpet-another-phony-secret-nuclear-deal-story
Ryabkov Says U.S. Sanctions Continue To Hinder Iran After Nuclear Deal, Radio Free Europe September 01, 2016 The United States has carried out its part of the Iranian nuclear deal, but unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran have remained in place and are a “big hindrance” for Tehran, a top Russian diplomat told TASS.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is visiting Tehran, told TASS on August 31 that the U.S. administration has implemented “from start to finish” everything envisaged by last year’s agreement, “but it hasn’t moved any further.”
“All the so-called unilateral sanctions that existed before an agreement was reached with Iran have stayed in place,” he said.
“These unilateral sanctions are a big hindrance,” he said. “Any deal serviced in dollars goes through corresponding controlling agencies of the United States and can be suspended.”
Despite the removal of most international sanctions against Iran, Ryabkov said European and Asian businesses continue to be cautious about dealing with Iran and as a result, “deals are fewer than one would want to see.”