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International Atomic Energy Agency

Iran’s nuclear shell game

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The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) presented the satellite images above on Thursday as evidence that Iran is continuing its efforts to destroy evidence of the existence of nuclear weapons development activity at its Parchin military base.

The UN nuclear watchdog stated that “based on satellite imagery, at this location, where virtually no activity had been observed for a number of years, the buildings of interest to the Agency are now subject to extensive activities that could hamper the Agency’s ability to undertake effective verification.”

 

Western envoys who attended Wednesday’s briefing said that two small side buildings at the Parchin military facility had been removed and ISIS said that they “have been completely razed.”

 

The disclosure followed inconclusive talks between Iran and six world powers in Baghdad last week to address concerns about the nature of its nuclear activities, which Iran says are aimed at generating electricity. Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei exits race for president

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The announcement by Mohamed ElBaradei, who appeared to have been outflanked by Egypt’s military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood, is a setback and a disappointment for liberal and secular activists.

Mohamed ElBaradei drops out of Egypt's presidential race.

“My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework,” Mohamed ElBaradei said in a statement. (AFP/Getty Images / January 14, 2012)

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

January 14, 2012, 7:52 p.m.

 

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei quit the race for the Egyptian presidency Saturday in protest of the military’s persistent grip on power despite a year of revolution and political upheaval.

ElBaradei’s announcement was a strategic and emotional setback for liberal and secular activists who had hoped the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency would propel the country toward democratic reforms to replace the corrupt legacy of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

“I have decided not to run for the post of the president of the republic,” ElBaradei said in a statement. “My conscience does not permit me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework.”

ElBaradei’s chances of winning the presidential election, scheduled for June, had dimmed in recent weeks. He could not muster the organizational prowess and appeal of Islamist parties, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s dominant political force.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Big Atomic Bomb Will Come Out’: Ahmadinejad and Chavez Joke About Nuclear Strike Against U.S

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(The Blaze/AP)– President Hugo Chavez defended his close ally Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday and warned of “U.S. warmongering threats” amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program.

chavez-mahmoud

The two leaders met in Caracas on the first leg of a four-nation tour that will also take Ahmadinejad to Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. Their conversation reportedly often focused on anti-U.S. rhetoric, which according to the Daily Mail included Mr Chavez saying that:

“he was hiding a bomb under a grassy knoll before the steps of the presidential palace, saying: ‘That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out. The imperialist spokesmen say Ahmadinejad and I are going into the basement now to set our sights on Washington and launch cannons and missiles… It’s laughable.”

The leaders were apparently serious, however, when discussing the threat they believe the U.S. poses.

“We are very worried,” Chavez said of the pressures being put on Iran by the United States and its allies, which he accused of being a threat to peace.

“They present us as aggressors,” Chavez said as he received Ahmadinejad at the presidential palace.

“Iran hasn’t invaded anyone,” he added. “Who has dropped thousands and thousands of bombs … including atomic bombs?”

Ahmadinejad’s visit comes after the U.S. imposed tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington believes Tehran is using to develop atomic weapons. Chavez and his allies back Iran in arguing the nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Both leaders joked that their relationship shouldn’t cause any concern.

chavez-mahmoud microphones

Ahmadinejad said if they were together building anything like a bomb, “the fuel of that bomb is love.” Read the rest of this entry »

December 26, 2011 – Full Report – Iran Daily Brief

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English: Map of Strait of Hormuz Español: Mapa...
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International Affairs

Ahmadinejad visits Armenia – On Friday, December 23, President Ahmadinejad travelled to Armenia along with a top-level delegation and met with his Armenian counterpart. The two emphasized the right of each country to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and the importance of resolving Iran’s nuclear issues through diplomacy. They further discussed the need to expand trade between the two countries and increase cooperation in the economic, energy, communication, industry and investment spheres.

Conference of Iranian diplomats on “Islamic Awakening” – On December 25, the general conference of Iranian delegations overseas convened. This year’s conference focused on the Islamic Awakening (the Iranian term for Arab Spring). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the official opening ceremony of the ten-day conference to convene in the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Tehran would be attended by the President.

Security committee to free Iranian in Syria established – Ambassador to Syria, Mohammad Ra’uf Sheybani, has said that a security committee has been set up to free the five Iranian hostages. He said that two objectives seem behind the kidnapping: to exert pressure on the Iranian government to change its stance towards the Syrian developments and to generate a negative impact on Iranian economic investments in Syria. Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East and Africa Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said that according to the latest news the seven Iranian electrical engineers and technicians abducted in the western Syrian city of Homs are in good health. Amir-Abdollahian said, “What the abductors did was actually designed to help the enemies of the Syrian people.”

Iran asks China to stop filtering Iranian radio that broadcasts in China – Senior Iranian officials contacted Chinese government cultural officials and requested that they act to remove cease blocking the radio frequency of Voice of Iran broadcasts in China. The Iranians submitted a report detailing radio activity in order to persuade the Chinese government to allow the radio to operate.

Military Affairs

Iran renews offer to IAEA to visit Iranian facilities – Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh said Iran’s permanent envoy to the IAEA said that Iran had renewed its invitation for an IAEA team to travel to Tehran to discuss issues related its nuclear program and that preliminary arrangements for the visit would be made in the first week of January. “Any time after that, after the composition of the team is finalized, they are welcome to come. Therefore I assume that perhaps in January this visit will be made.”

Large-scale Iranian navy drill in Strait of Hormuz beginsRead the rest of this entry »

Year In Review: Tensions Rise Between Iran, West

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Women hold pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, marking the day in 1979 when protesters stormed the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for over a year.

December 25, 2011

The Arab Spring; nuclear activity; mysterious killings at home and alleged assassination attempts abroad; house arrests; fears of impending air strikes; the storming of an embassy — these are events that made 2011 the year of the threat in Iran.

And as made clear by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in November, Iran doesn’t take such threats lying down. “We reply to threats with threats, he said. “Anyone who thinks of carrying out any act of aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran should prepare themselves for strong slaps and steel fists from the powerful nation of Iran.”

Some observers, such as Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, would go so far as to say there is already a covert war under way between Iran and the West.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iran says invites UN nuclear agency to visit

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English: Flag of the International Atomic Ener...
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The letter, Soltanieh said, renewed an Iranian invitation from October for a team of senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to travel to the country.

“I have also had discussions with the officials of the agency and we are planning for the visit,” Soltanieh said.

Western diplomats tend to see such invitations as attempts by Iran, which is facing tightening sanctions, to buy time and ease international pressure.

Amano has made clear that any new visit to Tehran by senior IAEA officials must address its growing concerns about potential military aims of the nuclear programme, which Iran says is strictly peaceful.

Asked whether Iran would be willing to discuss such issues, Soltanieh said: “We are going to discuss any questions and to work towards removing the ambiguities and resolving the issue.”

A senior Western diplomat earlier said Iran’s offer of talks

included no promise that discussions would cover issues raised in the November 8 IAEA report, which suggested Iran had worked on developing the means to build a nuclear weapon.

“Apparently the Iranians have invited agency officials, but the offer is clearly just part of their amateurish charm offensive,” the diplomat said. There is “no commitment to talk substance … same old movie.”

Western countries seized on the IAEA report last month to ratchet up economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, one of the world’s largest oil producers. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian customs seize Iran-bound radioactive metal

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Former US embassy in Tehran, Iran
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Dec 16, 3:38 PM EST


MOSCOW (AP)Russia’s customs agency announced Friday it has seized pieces of radioactive metal from the luggage of an Iranian passenger bound for Tehran from one of Moscow’s main airports.

It was not immediately clear if the substance could be any use to Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA confirmed that material had been seized from the luggage of an Iranian passenger in Moscow about a month ago, but denied it was radioactive.

Russia’s Federal Customs Service said in a statement that agents found 18 pieces of metal, packed in steel pencil cases, at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after a radiation alert went off. It said the gauges showed that radiation levels were 20 times higher than normal.

Spokeswoman Kseniya Grebenkina told The Associated Press the luggage was seized some time ago, but did not specify when. The Iranian wasn’t detained, she said, and it was not clear whether he was still in Russia or not. She did not give his name. The pieces contained Sodium-22, she said, a radioactive isotope of sodium that could be produced in a particle accelerator.

Kelly Classic, a health physicist at the United States’ renowned Mayo Clinic, said: “You can’t make a nuclear bomb or dirty bomb with it.”

“You’d certainly wonder where it came from and why,” Classic told The Associated Press. “It’s prudent to be a little leery considering where the person’s going.” Read the rest of this entry »