-

International Atomic Energy Agency

Iran’s nuclear shell game

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on Updated on


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

Posted on Updated on

(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

Posted on Updated on

English: Map of Strait of Hormuz Español: Mapa...
Image via Wikipedia

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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on Updated on

English: Flag of the International Atomic Ener...
Image via Wikipedia

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

Posted on Updated on

Former US embassy in Tehran, Iran
Image via Wikipedia

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 »

Iran threatens to target Turkey if U.S., Israel attack

Posted on Updated on

A woman walks past an anti-U.S. mural at the former U.S. embassy in Tehran November 19, 2011. The former U.S. embassy was the site of the 1979-1981 hostage crisis in which a group of militant Iranian students held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. The building is currently being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. - A woman walks past an anti-U.S. mural at the former U.S. embassy in Tehran November 19, 2011. The former U.S. embassy was the site of the 1979-1981 hostage crisis in which a group of militant Iranian students held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. The building is currently being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. | RAHEB HOMAVANDI/REUTERS

Enlarge this image
ALI AKBAR DAREINIIran will target NATO’s missile defense installations in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said Saturday.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division, said the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what he described as an increase in threats from the U.S. and Israel.

Tensions have been rising between Iran and the West since the release of a report earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that said for the first time that Tehran was suspected of conducting secret experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of trying to produce atomic weapons, and Israel, which views Tehran as an existential threat, has warned of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

“Should we be threatened, we will target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets,” the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Gen. Hajizadeh as saying. Read the rest of this entry »

Spotlight on Iran

Posted on Updated on

Media_httpwwwterroris_bnmwc

Highlights of the week

  • Iran’s NPT withdrawal threats resume following IAEA report
  • Debate on Syrian regime’s future resumes as Syria is suspended from Arab League
  • Iran denies any link between explosion on Revolutionary Guards base and military build-up program
  • More and more Iranians watch foreign satellite broadcasts despite authorities’ fight against satellite dishes
  • President expands his supporters’ online activity, launches new social network for young people

Highlights of the week

Iran’s NPT withdrawal threats resume following IAEA report

Iran once again threatens to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) following the release of the IAEA secretary-general’s report on the Iranian nuclear program last week.

Majles Speaker Ali Larijani said this week that the Majles intends to reexamine Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA since it’s now clear that cooperation, or lack thereof, has no influence on the “unprofessional decisions” of the agency. In addition, Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, reported that the committee began discussing Iran’s further cooperation with the IAEA. He said that committee members doubt whether there is any point in continuing to cooperate with the agency, which doesn’t help Iran achieve its right for nuclear technology. He did clarify, however, that at this point, the discussion is not indicative of a demand to withdraw from the NPT.

Meanwhile, student organizations in Iran called on Majles Speaker Ali Larijani to pass a bill stipulating that Iran has to withdraw from the NPT in protest of the IAEA secretary-general’s report.

While some called for considering the possibility of withdrawing from the NPT, different views were published by the Fararu website. An editorial titled “What should be done with this agency?” argued that withdrawing from the NPT is unreasonable and even dangerous, since it could serve the interests of Iran’s enemies and help them justify their claim that Iran is working to achieve nuclear weapons. Iran needs to gain an understanding of how committed IAEA leaders are to fulfill their responsibility towards it as member of the organization, and even suspend cooperation with the IAEA, but no good will come to Iran as a result of withdrawing from the NPT.

International affairs expert Hassan Beheshti-Pour also argued that it makes no sense for Iran to withdraw from the NPT after years of claiming that it is not interested in nuclear weapons. He noted that Iran should warn the IAEA about the impact of the report on Iran’s willingness to continue cooperating with the agency, but not withdraw from the NPT, which could give the West a new excuse to act against Iran.

In the past, there have been similar calls to withdraw from the NPT in response to mounting pressure and escalating sanctions against Iran.

 Debate on Syrian regime’s future resumes as Syria is suspended from Arab League

The Arab League’s decision to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization has reignited the debate in Iran over developments in that country and the future of the Syrian regime. While the official stance of Iran, which supports the Syrian regime, hasn’t changed so far, a growing number of voices in the Iranian media are stressing the gravity of the internal situation in Syria and casting doubts over the ability of the Syrian regime to successfully negotiate the crisis.

In response to the Arab League’s decision, earlier this week members of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee released a statement supporting Syria as the main axis of resistance in the region. Speaking at his weekly press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the decision made by the Arab League does not help resolve the crisis in Syria, and that President Assad should be allowed to implement the reforms in his country without foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs.

Some conservative media also continued to express support for President Assad’s regime. The daily Qods strongly criticized the Arab League’s decision, claiming it was dictated by the West and contradicted the league’s charter, which stipulates that it has no right to intervene in the internal affairs of its members. The Arab League’s decision proves, according to the daily, that it has a two-faced approach to developments in the Arab world. While it ignores the suppression of human rights and killing of civilians in Bahrain and Yemen, it is setting the stage for the escalation of international pressure on Syria. The daily warned that the league’s current policy can result in the withdrawal of several Arab countries from the organization and even to its disbandment.

The daily Tehran Emrouz also criticized the Arab League’s decision, accusing it of serving the interests of the United States and Israel and weakening the most powerful Islamic front faced by Israel and compromising the interests of the Islamic world. Read the rest of this entry »

Low Levels of Radiation detected throughout Europe

Posted on Updated on

Radiation SymbolThe International Atomic Energy Agency is reporting that “very low levels of iodine-131 have been measured in the atmosphere,” in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe.

The agency is not saying where the Iodine-131 is coming from or what other countries are being effected, but they are saying it’s not the result of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The IAEA said the current levels of iodine-131 are not high enough to justify a public health scare but they’re not saying much more than that.

Despite little information coming from the IAEA, some officials are reporting that the release appears to be continuing and that tests were under way to identify the source of radiation.

In Prague, an official at the Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety said he was “100 percent sure” that the radiation was not from any Czech nuclear power plant or from any other source on Czech territory. Authorities in Austria and Germany have also reported an increase in radioactive particles and Austrian officials believe the particles are coming from the south east. Read the rest of this entry »