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Preventing an accidental nuclear crisis in Iran and beyond

Preventing an accidental nuclear crisis in Iran and beyond, Bulletin, By Samuel M. Hickey | October 11, 2021 There has been no sign as to when nuclear talks with Iran may recommence. But after weeks of consultations, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have reached a deal on “the way and the timing” for UN nuclear inspectors to service cameras installed at Iran’s nuclear facilities. This patchwork agreement has kept alive the possibility of recovering a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear program and of reviving the Iran nuclear deal since Iran cut inspector access in February. It is also the first real sign of cooperative engagement by Iran since President Ebrahim Raisi came to power in August.

The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the latest experiment in how much UN nuclear inspector access states will tolerate. However, it is under exceptional stress from those who believe military coercion is more effective than systems of denial in stemming proliferation. Days after the least competitive presidential election in the Islamic Republic’s history, a drone attack at a centrifuge production facility on June 23 damaged the IAEA’s monitoring and surveillance equipment. While the Israeli government did not comment on the attack, the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, located in the city of Karaj, was reportedly “on a list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration early last year.” Now, Iran has allowed the IAEA to service cameras in every location but the Karaj site.

Acts of sabotage are diametrically opposed to the global nuclear verification regime because states need to believe that punishment will cease if they comply with the agreed-to framework. Further, failure to revive the nuclear deal could remove the possibility of applying the verification tools gained to other proliferation challenges like North Korea or the next nuclear threshold state. The loss of these techniques would undermine efforts to improve the global nonproliferation regime. As the United States’ experiences in leaving Afghanistan make clear, accurate intelligence is critical to making informed decisions and avoiding a crisis. The wrong assumptions can have dire consequences.

Verification evolution: Iraq and the old gold standard. The current nuclear verification protocols are the strongest in history and prioritize the non-diversion of nuclear materials over sovereign jurisdiction; however, many of these legal instruments were born out of crisis and remain voluntary, not mandatory……………………..

Specifically, the Iran nuclear deal caps the quantity and level of enrichment of uranium as well as the number and sophistication of the centrifuges that are operating and limits heavy water production. It also provides continuous monitoring of centrifuges and centrifuge rotor tubes, continuous access to Natanz, the monitoring of the production or acquisition of any uranium ore concentrate and enhanced managed access, meaning the IAEA can inspect a suspected violation.

The deal also instilled two key principles that should be universalized. First, a civilian nuclear program should be commensurate to its energy or related needs. Second, the IAEA has the right to monitor a ban on “weaponization” activities, which are activities related to developing or procuring equipment for developing nuclear weapons. …………

These measures, at least until the deal expires, will provide a high degree of confidence that weapons-related activity is not occurring. They could also be promoted as a model for other countries wanting to give confidence in the peaceful nature of their own nuclear facilities………

If the politics of the Iranian nuclear program are too challenging, then the new verification tools will not be useful to solve a real crisis if one crops up in Iran or elsewhere. The great arms control theorist and developer of game theory Thomas Schelling opened his book Arms and Influence with the reflection: “One of the lamentable principles of human productivity is that it is easier to destroy than to create.” Let’s hope the groundbreaking verification and monitoring tools of the Iran nuclear deal are not a casualty of human initiative.

October 12, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

US calls for ‘imminent’ return to nuclear talks with Iran

US calls for ‘imminent’ return to nuclear talks with Iran, Aljazeera, 9 Oct 21,
State Department spokesperson says US is ‘willing and able’ to resume negotiations as soon as Iran agrees.
Indirect US-Iran talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal have been on ice since June [Handout via Reuters]7 Oct 2021

The Biden administration has called for an “imminent” return to talks in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal, but said a resumption of the negotiations is “hinging on the Iranians”.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Thursday that Washington is willing to continue the talks as soon as Tehran agrees to re-engage in the negotiations, stressing that the path to diplomacy is still open.

Pakistan and Iran discuss border security, AfghanistanIran ‘concerned’ by Israeli ‘presence’ in the CaucasusIranian foreign minister meets top Lebanese officials

Negotiations have been on ice since June, shortly after the election of Iran’s conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

“We have made very clear that we are prepared, willing and able to return to Vienna as soon as we have a partner to negotiate with,” Price said.

The 2015 multilateral nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting international sanctions against its economy………….

October 9, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

The risks of a catastrophic spent nuclear fuel fire near the Persian Gulf.

How to reduce the risk of a catastrophic spent nuclear fuel fire near the Persian Gulf, Bulletin, By Tara BurchmoreTom SpenceAli Ahmad | October 6, 2021 
 The 2021 operational launch of two reactors at the Barakah power plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrates the growth of nuclear energy in the Middle East. Over the next two years, there will be five reactors operating in the Persian Gulf­—four reactors at Barakah and Iran’s Bushehr reactor, which has been running since 2013. If Iran and Saudi Arabia fulfill their proposed plans to build new nuclear reactors, the number will rise to at least eight reactors in the gulf by 2030.

There are many reasons for concern about the safety of nuclear facilities in the gulf. Particularly in the region where Bushehr is located, Iran is prone to seismic activity. The UAE has limited experience in operating nuclear facilities. And terrorist groups have identified energy infrastructure as a key target—and even attacked nuclear installations.

It is in this context we raise an alarm about the possibility of a severe nuclear accident in the gulf, driven by a fire in one of the spent nuclear fuel pools of the Bushehr or Barakah power plants. As we explain in detail in our recent paper in Science and Global Security, the local and possibly global economic implications of such an accident are huge.

Since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster more than a decade ago and the “near miss” catastrophe of a fire at the unit 4 spent fuel pool, higher attention has been given to the long-overlooked risks of such densely packed pools, which typically have less fortified containment than a reactor core but may contain much larger amounts of radioactivity. Frank von Hippel and his colleagues have since produced important analyses revising the risks of spent nuclear fuel fires and highlighting their human and economic costs.

Cities at risk. In our paper, we modelled what might happen if a spent nuclear fuel fire was to start at either the Barakah or Bushehr nuclear power plants, using an atmospheric modeling program to simulate how the plume of radioactive smoke from the fire would spread over the gulf region based on probable weather patterns.

Based on thousands of dispersion simulations using real historical weather data, the results show that several major cities in the gulf region could be contaminated by cesium 137 fallout if a spent fuel fire occurred at Barakah or Bushehr. The cities at the highest risk from fires at Barakah are those centered around the Gulf of Bahrain: Doha, Manama, Dammam, and al-Hofuf…………………………

Recommendations. The safest way to mitigate the risk of spent nuclear fuel fires in the Persian Gulf region would be to end the deployment of nuclear energy in the Middle East and rely instead on the region’s natural gas and renewable energy resources. This, of course, will not happen.

However, risks can be reduced by not adding new nuclear capacity beyond what is currently built. Additionally, governments could reduce risks by timely transfer of spent fuel into dry cask storage and ultimately into geological storage, limiting the dense packing of spent fuel pools. Iran has agreed to transfer Bushehr’s spent nuclear fuel to Russia and could seek to do so as soon as it has cooled sufficiently. States also should work to prevent attacks on nuclear facilities. One model could be a multilateral arrangement similar to the bilateral one reached between India and Pakistan. Finally, gulf states should bolster their emergency preparedness and management plans for nuclear accidents and incidents involving potential radiation release in the region.

October 7, 2021 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, safety | Leave a comment

Iran calls on US to unfreeze $10 billion before returning to nuclear talks

Iran calls on US to unfreeze $10 billion before returning to nuclear talks
If the U.S. is serious about rejoining the 2015 nuclear accord, “then a serious indication is needed,” says Iran’s foreign minister.

BY DEAN SHMUEL ELMAS AND JNS STAFF   (OCTOBER 3, 2021 / ISRAEL HAYOM) Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahain said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic had requested that the United States unfreeze “at least” $10 billion in frozen Iranian funds to prove it was serious about rejoining the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action…….

October 4, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | 1 Comment

Already the ”nuclear for climate for COP26 ” deceitful propaganda is underway, with a ”clean energy certificate”

The scheme provides an accreditation system based on internationally recognised standards and lays the foundations for a market for trading renewable and nuclear energy attributes.

Abu Dhabi launches clean energy certificate scheme, WNN, 22 September 2021

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a regulatory policy for implementing a clean energy certificates scheme it says will cater to a growing appetite among businesses and consumers to contribute to the fight against climate change. The scheme provides an accreditation system based on internationally recognised standards and lays the foundations for a market for trading renewable and nuclear energy attributes.

The Regulatory Policy for Clean Energy Certificates, which was announced by the department on 29 August, is part of its commitment to drive the transition to a sustainable decarbonised energy sector. ………………………..

September 23, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Iran clearly wants to return to nuclear talks

‘Very clear intent’ by Iran to return to nuclear talks, Ireland says
, By Michelle Nichols   UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign minister expressed a “very clear intent” to return to nuclear talks in Vienna, Ireland’s foreign minister said on Wednesday after meeting with his Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“That may not happen for a number of weeks, as the new Iranian government finalizes their approach towards those negotiations. But certainly, he expressed a very clear intent to return to those negotiations,” Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, told reporters.

Ireland is currently a member of the U.N. Security Council and coordinates the 15-member body’s work on a 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia………

In a video statement, Raisi told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday that Tehran wants to resume nuclear talks with world powers that would lead to removal of U.S. sanctions.

September 23, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactor worker wins NIS one million cancer compensation.

Nuclear reactor worker wins NIS one million cancer compensation

‘G,’ a 78-year-old pensioner from Beersheba, claimed to have been continually exposed to hazardous materials and radioactive radiation at the Dimona nuclear reactor.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF   SEPTEMBER 19, 2021  A Dimona nuclear reactor technician, who twice contracted cancer since his retirement, will be compensated in the sum of over NIS one

million, N12 reported on Sunday.’G,’ a 78-year-old pensioner from Beersheba, worked as a chemistry technician at the Dimona nuclear reactor for 32 years before retiring in 2003.

The retired technician claimed to have been continually exposed to hazardous materials and radioactive radiation, which caused him to develop five cancerous tumors which were surgically removed, as well as battling bladder and prostate cancer.He also claimed that there was no proper supervision and no means of radiation protection given to him during his time working in the reactor.”I went through a troubling period in my life. I couldn’t believe my job would bring me to this situation,” he reportedly noted in a claim filed to social security……..

September 20, 2021 Posted by | health, Israel, Legal | Leave a comment

Mossad assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist using an artificial-Intelligence-powered, remote-controlled machine gun

Mossad assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist using an AI-powered, remote-controlled machine gun, report says, Business Insider Joshua ZitserSep. 19, 2021,  Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, was on Israel’s hit list since 2007.In November 2020, the Mossad pulled off a hit using a remote-controlled, AI-powered machine gun.It was controlled by operatives outside of Iran, who killed Fakhrizadeh in under a minute, per NYT……………….. 

September 20, 2021 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran appoints harsh critic of the nuclear deal to the Foreign Ministry

Crucial changes at Iran’s foreign ministry ahead of nuclear talks

Iran has appointed a staunch critic of the nuclear deal to a position that will have a significant impact on its future.    Aljazeera,  By Maziar Motamedi, 15 Sep 21,

Tehran, Iran – Shortly before talks resume in Vienna around restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, its foreign ministry has made some changes that may well prove critical.

Hardline diplomat Ali Bagheri Kani has been appointed as the new deputy for political affairs, replacing veteran diplomat Abbas Araghchi, who led six rounds of nuclear talks in Vienna up to late July – when talks stopped to allow Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi to form his administration.

Araghchi, a career diplomat and senior member of the team that negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during the tenure of President Hassan Rouhani, is now an adviser to Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, which may mean he has not been fully sidelined

If the nuclear file stays with the foreign ministry – as opposed to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) – Bagheri Kani, for years a staunch opponent of the nuclear deal, could become the new chief nuclear negotiator.

But even if he does not lead the negotiations, he is expected to play a significant role in pushing for a stricter stance on the lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States after it left the deal in 2018.

Bagheri Kani’s appointment was reportedly pushed for by Saeed Jalili, another opponent of the JCPOA and an ultraconservative senior member of the SNSC who ran for president in the June elections………….

The path ahead

The appointments come as Iran and the US, China, Russia, and European powers are expected to return to the Austrian capital at a critical stage for the JCPOA.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said the Vienna talks would happen “in the near future”.

Another crisis looming over the resumption of the talks was avoided on Sunday when Iran and the global nuclear watchdog reached an agreement struck in Tehran……………

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Iranian Guards Physically Harassed Female U.N. Nuclear Inspectors, Diplomats Say .

Allegations come amid rising tensions between Tehran and the U.N. atomic energy agency  While Iran says it isn’t trying to build nuclear weapons, a look at its key facilities suggests it could develop the technology to make them. WSJ breaks down Tehran’s capabilities as it hits new milestones in uranium enrichment and limits access to inspectors.   WSJ, By Laurence Norman, Sept. 14, 2021

Iranian security guards have physically harassed several female United Nations atomic agency inspectors at a nuclear facility over the past few months, diplomats say, and the U.S. has demanded that Iran stop the behavior immediately.

The previously unreported incidents at Iran’s main nuclear facility, Natanz, allegedly included inappropriate touching of female inspectors by male security guards and orders to remove some clothing, the diplomats said….. (subscribers only)

September 16, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, Iran | Leave a comment

Iran blocking UN atomic agency access to nuclear-related sites, IAEA says

Iran blocking UN atomic agency access to nuclear-related sites, IAEA says, Mint.  LAURENCE NORMAN, The Wall Street Journal, 8 Sep 21,

  • U.S., European powers must now decide whether to seek formal censure of Tehran, U.N. atomic agency says. Iran is refusing to allow inspectors access to nuclear-related sites and hindering a probe by the United Nations atomic agency while continuing to expand its nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in two confidential reports Tuesday, casting doubt on efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The reports leave the Biden administration and its European allies facing a choice between pushing for a formal rebuke of Iran—which Tehran’s new hard-line government has warned could scuttle the resumption of nuclear talks—or refraining from action, potentially undercutting the authority of the IAEA and its leadership.

The future of the nuclear deal is already in the balance. New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, pressed by European and U.S. officials to quickly resume the talks on restoring the deal, has said his government is prepared to return to the Vienna negotiations but refused to fix a date. The last talks took place in June…… (subscribers only)

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Israel’s ‘alarmist claims’ raise the stakes against Iran

Israel’s ‘alarmist claims’ raise the stakes against Iran, Israeli leaders have issued a series of threats against Iran over its nuclear programme, reviving ‘plans’ for action.   Aljazeera,   By Thomas O Falk, 5 Sept 21

Israeli leaders have revived threats against Iran after warning it is just months away from possessing a nuclear weapon.

The United States and Israel have formed a high-level team to tackle the Iran nuclear issue, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced last week after meeting President Joe Biden.

“The immediate follow-up was to form a joint team based on the joint objectives of rolling Iran back into their box and preventing Iran from ever being able to break out a nuclear weapon,” Bennett said

“We set up a joint team with our national security adviser and America’s, and we’re working very hard, and the cooperation is great… The president was very clear about he won’t accept Iran going nuclear, now or in the future.”

In light of the lack of progress on the negotiations with Iran on a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Biden said during his meeting with Bennett at the White House that “other options” would be possible if the diplomatic approach with Tehran failed.

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, meanwhile, urged the international community to develop a “Plan B” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons as prospects of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal dwindle.

“Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” Gantz told dozens of ambassadors and envoys at an August 25 briefing.

“Iran has the intention to destroy Israel and is working on developing the means to do so,” he said. “Israel has the means to act and will not hesitate to do so. I do not rule out the possibility that Israel will have to take action in the future in order to prevent a nuclear Iran.”

‘Not empty words’

While Gantz did not go into specifics, analysts have their own idea of what Plan B could mean.

“What is referred to as Plan B actually appears to be Israel’s Plan A – coercive measures that likely will draw the US and Iran into a broader war that will see the balance in the region shift dramatically in the direction of Israel while forestalling any US-Iran rapprochement for years if not decades,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told Al Jazeera

However, even if Plan B were slightly more subtle than the aforementioned scenario, Gantz’s words should be taken seriously, said Yaniv Voller, senior lecturer in politics of the Middle East at the University of Kent.

“These threats are not merely empty words. Israel and the US have proved that they can carry out operations inside Iran and sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities and infrastructure,” Voller told Al Jazeera.

The choice of words by Gantz is reminiscent of the previous times Israel exaggerated the Iranian threat, security experts said.

“These claims are probably no more valid than the whole series of alarmist claims the Israelis have been making about Iran’s nuclear capability since the 1990s,” Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and chair of the Middle Eastern Studies programme at the University of San Francisco, told Al Jazeera.

“Each and every one of these frightening predictions over the past quarter-century has proven wrong, so there is no reason to take this latest iteration any more seriously.”

Key stumbling block

The dispute over the international nuclear agreement with Iran remains one of the primary reasons for the tensions in the Middle East, which have increased in recent years. Israel continues to feel its very existence is threatened by Iran’s nuclear programme…………………..

September 6, 2021 Posted by | Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Analysts In Iran Pessimistic Over Nuclear Talks, Oppose Further Delays

Analysts In Iran Pessimistic Over Nuclear Talks, Oppose Further Delays, Iran International, 6 Sept 21

Reza Nasri, a senior international relations expert in Iran has warned the Iranian government that delaying the resumption of nuclear talks with world powers would give an opportunity to the deal’s opponents in the West to erect new hurdles to a new agreement.

Nasri told ISNA news website in Iran that some American opponents of the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA may try to use this opportunity to form alliances against the revival of the deal among members of the US Congress………………….

September 6, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

What’s next for the Iran nuclear deal?

Iran nuclear deal: What’s next for the JCPOA?

With a conservative government in Iran and Biden touting ‘other options’, restoring JCPOA will be difficult, analysts say, Aljazeera, By Ali Harb, 3 Sep 2021 Washington, DC – Tehran says it is seeking sanction relief; Washington says containing the Iranian nuclear programme is a national security priority.

And so, both countries maintained that they have an interest in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. But six rounds of talks in Vienna earlier this year have failed to produce a path to restore the multilateral agreement.

The election of conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in Iran has further complicated the situation. Negotiations have been on ice since June with the Iranian government in transition. Last week, the Iranian parliament approved Raisi’s cabinet, but the parties are yet to set solid plans for resuming the negotiations.

With hardliners consolidating power in Iran and US President Joe Biden tackling multiple crises at home, analysts have said reviving the nuclear pact will be difficult.

Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American journalist and analyst, said she is pessimistic about the prospects of reinstating the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

A Raisi government run by ideologues and more interested in relations with China and Russia will not be rushing to negotiate with the US, she said.

“I’m prepared for the possibility that the return would not happen,” Mortazavi told Al Jazeera.

“And this is not only on the Iranian side, but it’s also the Biden administration. Joe Biden himself – even though he did promise a return to the JCPOA – it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to spend the political capital that is required for this return

Iran says all sanctions must go

As a candidate, Biden pledged to restore the deal that saw Iran curb its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions against its economy.

The administration says it seeks to make the deal “longer and stronger” and use it as a platform to address broader issues with Tehran, including Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional activities.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran agrees “in principle” to resuming the Vienna talks.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Amirabdollahian told his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, that negotiations must “result in removing all sanctions on the country and fulfilling the rights of the Iranian people”…………………

Since 2015, Trump imposed more than 1,000 sanctions on Iran, and Biden added a few of his own.

The Biden administration has expressed willingness to remove some sanctions not officially labelled as nuclear. But Iran said it wants all sanctions revoked. And so, the two countries have to agree on the scope of sanction relief. Even then, sanctions cannot be undone with the stroke of a pen. Removing them can be a lengthy process that involves several government agencies…………………

September 4, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran’s new foreign minister Warns Tehran May Not Return to Nuclear Talks Until November

New Iranian FM Warns Tehran May Not Return to Nuclear Talks Until November . by Sharon Wrobel, 1 Sept 21,

Iran’s new foreign minister hinted that a resumption of talks on the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal could take up to two to three months.

“The other side understands that it will take two or three months for the new government to be established in Iran and plan for any sort of decision on this topic,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state TV in an interview on Monday night.

Last week, Iran’s parliament approved most of the hardline nominees put forward by newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi…………

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment