Tagged: Iran Nuclear Programme

Iran says planes denied fuel in Germany, UK and UAE

Reuters | Tue Jul 6, 2010 | 3:30am IST

Iran complained on Monday that its planes had been denied fuel in Germany, Britain and the United Arab Emirates, and Washington said commercial firms were making the "right choices" by cutting business ties with Tehran. The Financial Times newspaper said oil major BP had stopped refueling Iranian jets. BP declined to confirm the report but said: "We fully comply with any international sanctions imposed in countries where we operate." Pressure is mounting on Iran over its nuclear programme and the United States has stepped up its push to isolate Tehran economically. On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed into law far-reaching sanctions that aim to squeeze the Islamic Republic’s fuel imports and deepen its international isolation.

"Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America," Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, told Iran’s ISNA news agency. So far national carrier Iran Air and Mahan Airlines had been affected, he said. Washington has not spelled out whether its new sanctions are intended to require firms to refuse to fuel Iranian jets at airports in third countries, but U.S. officials made clear they were pleased with reports sanctions had begun to bite. "The costs of doing business with Iran, a country that is shirking its international obligations across the board and engaged in illicit activity, are rising," a senior Obama administration official said on Monday. "The international commercial sector is making the right choices. It’s now time for Iran to make the right choice — to fulfill its international obligations — that remains our primary objective," the official said.

A source in the UAE familiar with the issue said a private firm had refused to refuel an Iranian plane there, but the UAE had imposed no ban of its own. The source did not name the firm. "The UAE has nothing to do with it," the source said. "They (Iranian planes) are more than welcome." The source added: "It is just one company and there 

Continue reading

Iran says UN nuclear sanctions will be ‘discredited’

BBC News | Wednesday, 19 May 2010 | 11:28 GMT

The head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation has said newly-proposed sanctions on Iran will backfire. Ali Akbar Salehi said the sanctions would lead to the major world powers who back them being "discredited". He is the highest-ranking Iranian official to speak since the proposals were tabled at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. The proposals come just a day after Tehran agreed to trade uranium for ready-enriched fuel for a reactor. "They won’t prevail and by pursuing the passing of a new resolution they are discrediting themselves in public opinion," said Mr Salehi, who is also Iran’s vice-president. Plans for a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme were circulated among all 15 members of the Security Council on Tuesday. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the five veto-wielding permanent members had agreed on a "strong" draft resolution.

Nuclear weapon

The new draft was drawn up a day after Iran, Brazil and Turkey signed a deal in which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for enriched fuel for a research reactor. A similar deal was suggested last year by the five permanent members of the Security Council – the US, France, UK, China and Russia – plus Germany, who have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme. They believe that Iran is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies. Placing Iran’s nuclear material in a third country was intended to act as a confidence-building measure by the major world powers to prevent Iran producing more highly enriched, weapons-grade material.

Continue reading

Iran unveils ‘faster’ uranium centrifuges

BBC NEWS | 2010/04/09 | 18:57:50 GMT

Iran’s president has unveiled new "third-generation" centrifuges that its nuclear chief says can enrich uranium much faster than current technology. The centrifuges would have separation power six times that of the first generation, Ali Akbar Salehi said in a speech marking National Nuclear Day. Uranium enrichment is the central concern of Western nations negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme. The new technology could shorten the time it takes to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

Friday’s announcement comes as members of the UN Security Council discuss a new round of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Ambassadors from the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – the P5+1 – described the talks as worthwhile, but said their meetings would continue in the coming weeks. China has been under pressure from the US and others to support new sanctions and took part in the meeting despite its public objections. In a BBC interview, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, said Western nations were seeking harsher sanctions "out of frustration".

"I don’t think Iran is developing, or we have new information that Iran is developing, a nuclear weapon today," he said. "There is a concern about Iran’s future intentions, but even if you talk to MI6 or the CIA, they will tell you they are still four or five years away from a weapon. So, we have time to engage." He said it was a "question of building trust between Iran and the US". "That will not happen until the two sides sit around the negotiating table and address their grievances. Sooner or later that will happen."    

Continue reading

Iran nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri ‘defects to US’

BBC News | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 | 12:09 GMT

An Iranian nuclear scientist who has been missing since June has defected to the US, according to a US media report. ABC News said Shahram Amiri had been resettled in the US and was helping the CIA in its efforts to block Iran’s nuclear programme. Mr Amiri disappeared in Saudi Arabia while on a Muslim pilgrimage. Iran accused the US of abducting him but Washington denied any knowledge of the scientist. The CIA has declined to comment on the latest report. Mr Amiri worked as a researcher at Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV channel. However, some reports said he had also been employed by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, and had wanted to seek asylum abroad.

CIA operation?

The US and its Western allies suspect Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons – a claim denied by Tehran. According to ABC, the scientist has been extensively debriefed, and has helped to confirm US intelligence assessments about the Iranian nuclear programme. His defection was apparently the result of a wider operation, under which the US has been approaching Iranian scientists, sometimes through relatives living in America, to try to persuade them to defect. By making this defection public, it appears the Americans are putting more psychological pressure on the Iranian authorities, says the BBC’s Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne, who is in London.    

Continue reading

US and France vow to push for new sanctions on Iran

BBC News | Tuesday, 30 March 2010 | 23:14 GMT

The US and France have vowed to work together to push for new UN sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme. After talks in Washington with French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, US President Barack Obama said he hoped to have the sanctions in place "within weeks". Mr Sarkozy promised "all necessary efforts to make sure Europe as a whole engaged in the sanctions regime". Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear arms capability. Tehran denies this. It says its atomic programme is entirely peaceful.

‘Mad race’

In a joint news conference with Mr Sarkozy at the White House, Mr Obama said he was not interested in waiting months for new sanctions. "My hope is that we are going to get this done this spring," he said. "I am interested in seeing that regime in place within weeks." For his part, President Sarkozy said Iran could not continue its "mad race" to try to complete its suspect nuclear programme. "The time has come to take decisions. Iran cannot continue its mad race," Mr Sarkozy said at the joint press conference. He said that he would work with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to get European backing for the sanctions regime. Mrs Merkel has suggested that if the UN Security Council cannot agree on the matter, Germany and other like-minded countries might pursue their own sanctions.     

Continue reading

Iran says hopes China won’t bow to sanctions pressure

Tue Mar 9, 2010 5:21pm IST

Iran said on Tuesday it hoped China would not give in to pressure to agree to new sanctions that the United States and its allies hope to win U.N. approval for over its nuclear programme. Washington and other Western powers want China to approve a proposed U.N. resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran, a big source of oil for China, after Iran refused an offer to enrich its uranium abroad. Western powers have been looking for signs of a shift in the position of a country with veto power on the U.N. Security Council, but both Iran and China have given no ground so far. "China is a great country which enjoys enough power to pursue its own decisions independently without being pressured by America," foreign minister spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at a news conference in Tehran. "Of course our expectations from such a big country is the same … to pursue its foreign policies independently and just observe its own national interests," he said, citing Iran’s close relations with China.

Iran has turned to Chinese firms for investment in its energy and other sectors after Western firms turned away due to Iran’s political isolation and sanctions. China’s Foreign Minister said on Sunday new sanctions on Iran would not solve the stand-off over its nuclear programme, which Western powers fear will allow Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says it is only interested in electricity. "China upholds resolving    

Continue reading

Iran’s supreme leader denounces nuclear plan criticism

BBC NEWS | 2010/02/19 | 12:07:37 GMT

Iran’s supreme leader has denounced international condemnation of Tehran’s nuclear programme, after a new report from the UN atomic watchdog, the IAEA. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the outcry was “baseless” as Iranians’ beliefs “bar us from using such weapons”. The blunt report raised concerns Iran was working on nuclear weapons. Germany said the report “confirms our great concerns”; while the US warned Iran it faced consequences if it failed to meet international responsibilities. Moscow said Iran must co-operate more actively with the International Atomic Energy Agency to convince the world its programme was peaceful.

But Ayatollah Khamenei countered: “We do not believe in atomic weapons and are not seeking that.” Iran has always maintained that its nuclear programme is peaceful. The US and other Western nations fear it is enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Iran launched its first domestically built destroyer, reportedly equipped with sophisticated radar, anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles as well as torpedoes and naval guns. Reports said the new 1,500-tonne guided missile destroyer, Jamaran, would be deployed in the Gulf.     Continue reading

Ahmadinejad: Iran is now a ‘nuclear state’

AP | Teheran | 9:39 am ET | Feb. 11, 2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Thursday that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions. Ahmadinejad reiterated to hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians on the anniversary of the 1979 foundation of the Islamic republic that the country was now a “nuclear state,” an announcement he’s made before. He insisted that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons. It was not clear how much enriched material had actually been produced just two days after the process was announced to have started.

David Albright of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said that any 20-percent enriched uranium produced just a few days after the start of the process would be “a tiny amount.” The United States and some of its allies accuse Tehran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons but Tehran denies the charge, saying the program is just geared toward generating electricity. “I want to announce with a loud voice here that the first package of     Continue reading

Iran to enrich uranium to 20% as nuclear fears grow

BBC NEWS | 2010/02/08 | 10:22:10 GMT

Enrichment would take place at Natanz.

Iran has announced immediate plans to step up its nuclear programme, which Western nations fear could be used to make a bomb. Its nuclear chief said Iran would start enriching uranium to 20% from Tuesday, and that 10 new uranium enrichment plants would be built in the next year. Ali Akbar Salehi said the enrichment would take place at Natanz, Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant. The move heightens fears Iran is moving closer to weapons-grade uranium. Western countries have criticised Iran for stalling on a deal over its enrichment programme. The latest development comes days before Iran celebrates the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. The event is expected to see pro- and anti-government demonstrations. Witnesses say the situation in the Iranian capital Tehran is increasingly tense, with a series of checkpoints already set up across the city.

Major step

Speaking on Sunday evening, Mr. Salehi said he would inform the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of the enrichment plan in a formal letter on Monday. However, he added that production would be halted if Iran received fuel enriched to 20% from abroad. The country earlier appeared ready to exchange its low-enriched uranium for higher-grade foreign fuel but wanted changes to UN-drafted plan. “Iran would halt its enrichment process for the Tehran research reactor any time it receives the necessary fuel      Continue reading

West wary as Iran president agrees nuclear deal terms

BBC NEWS | 2010/02/03 | 17:07:49 GMT

The US and key allies have called on Iran to match its words with actions after it appeared to accept a deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would have “no problem” if most of its stock was held for several months before being returned as fuel rods. The US said that if this was a new offer, it was “prepared to listen”. Germany’s foreign minister said “only actions” counted and his French counterpart said he was “perplexed”. Soon after the Iranian statement, state TV announced the successful launch of a satellite rocket carrying an “experimental capsule”. The West is concerned about Iran’s growing missile technology and possible links to its nuclear programme. Iran insists its nuclear development and rocket programme are entirely peaceful.

A deal struck in October between Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the so-called P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany – envisaged Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France where it would be processed into fuel for a research reactor. But last month, diplomats said Iran had told the IAEA that it did not accept the terms of the deal and had      Continue reading

China again rejects UN sanctions against Iran

BBC NEWS | 2010/01/06 | 07:24:52 GMT

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Yesui, has said the time is not right to consider more sanctions against Iran. The UN Security Council, including China, has previously called for Iran to stop enriching uranium and has issued three sets of sanctions. Iran’s leaders insist their atomic programme is only meant for energy-generating purposes. But the US and its allies fear Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. China has the presidency of the UN Security Council during January, and is one of its five permanent veto-holders.

Timing tangle

Mr. Zhang told reporters at the UN that “more time and patience” was needed to find a diplomatic solution to the impasse. The Chinese ambassador’s comments come days after Iran missed an end-of-year deadline set by the US to respond positively to offers of talks about its uranium enrichment programme. Plans on how to respond are apparently still up in the air, says the BBC’s Tom Lane, at the UN in New York. Diplomats at the UN say senior figures from Europe, the US, Russia and China will meet later this month to exchange opinions, our correspondent says. US officials have previously called for “crippling” sanctions in the event of a diplomatic failure. However, recent reports suggest they are currently thinking of “targeted sanctions” that focus on people and companies involved in Iran’s nuclear programme, our correspondent adds. Analysts say it could take Iran from between 18 months and three years to build a nuclear bomb. With all this in the background, diplomats say it could be many weeks and even months before a deal is reached at the UN, our correspondent reports. However, it is possible the US and its allies could roll out new sanctions of their own sooner.

US debating next steps on Iran

BBC NEWS | 2010/01/04 | 19:23:21 GMT

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US has been discussing with partners, ways of putting pressure on Iran to end its nuclear programme. But the White House said the “door is still open” for Iran to return to talks over nuclear enrichment. Iran is already subject to three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment programme. US President Barack Obama had said harsher steps would be taken if Iran failed to respond by the end of 2009. Mrs. Clinton said the US had begun speaking to its partners and “like-minded nations” about pressure and sanctions. She said the goal of the US was to “pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary [people], who deserve better than what they currently are receiving.”

White House spokesman Bill Burton said the door was “still open for Iran to take the right decision and respect its international obligations.” “We are going to take the necessary steps to encourage them to return to the table,” he said. “We’ll be going through the appropriate process to try to get them to the table and do exactly what they’re supposed to do.” Iran says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes but many in the West fear it is developing weaponry. Tehran has rejected a plan put forward by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under which Iran would have sent most of its uranium abroad for further enriching. Mr. Obama’s administration had set an end-of-year deadline for serious progress towards a comprehensive solution.

Iran ‘Atomic Bomb Trigger’ Reports Forged –Ahmadinezad

22/12/2009 | 14:35 (+5:30 GMT)

A reported Iranian confidential technical document depicting Iran as trying to design an atomic bomb trigger was a forgery made by Washington, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinezad told in an interview filmed on Friday, 18th December with ABC News. Iran’s President was asked by ABC News about a Times of London report published on 14th December which said that it had obtained a confidential technical document describing a four year plan to test a neutron initiator the part of a nuclear warhead that sets off an explosion. Ahmadinezad was quoted as saying the reports are “fundamentally not true.”

“They are all fabricated bunch of papers continuously being forged and disseminated by the American government,” he told in the interview in Copenhagen, Denmark, after he attended the United Nations conference on climate change from ‘7th to 18th December,‘ as per reports by Reuters and BBC today. BBC correspondent in Washington says the interview offered a rare opportunity to see an Iranian leader being questioned by the US media. “But Mr. Ahmadinezad’s answers gave little indication that his administration is moving towards a more conciliatory position,” the correspondent adds.     Continue reading

Barack Obama’s Myopic Iran Policy

The Hindu | Siddharth Varadarajan | 30.11.09

Siddharth Varadarajan is a columnist for ‘The Hindu’, a national news paper in India. This article was published in The Hindu on 30th November, 2009.


By giving Israel veto rights and threatening more sanctions, the U.S. is squandering the best chance we have for a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Ordinarily, it would have been easy to dismiss the latest resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency censuring Iran as a text, drafted by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But context is everything. Whether by design or default, the unhelpful resolution comes at a time when the Iranians are still in the process of working out the terms of a landmark agreement on a nuclear fuel swap. If implemented, this would represent the first genuine breakthrough in the nuclear arena since the present standoff between Iran and the West began in 2005. Under the terms of the original proposal made last month by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (known collectively as the P5+1), Iran is to send to Russia most of its stocks of 3.5 per cent low enriched uranium (LEU) produced under safeguards at Natanz. There, the LEU would be enriched to 20 per cent and sent on to France for fabrication into fuel rods for eventual use at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).

The TRR was set up in 1967 with U.S. support and is used by the Iranians for the production of medical isotopes for cancer diagnostics. With the TRR’s fuel set to run out next year, Iran had asked the IAEA for help in procuring new supplies, failing which it would be obliged to up the level of its own enrichment activities so as to fuel the TRR domestically. The IAEA, in consultation with the United States, came up with the      Continue reading

‘Half year notice’ on Iran sites

BBC NEWS | 2009/12/04 | 11:28:01 GMT

Iran will inform UN nuclear inspectors where 10 planned installations are only six months before they become operational, Tehran has said. Friday’s announcement came after the US warned Iran that “time was running out” if it wanted to avoid sanctions over its nuclear programme. International inspectors have demanded information on all planned facilties. It maintains that its programme is peaceful, despite international fears it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran argues that under international agreements it is only required to give 180 days’ notice before it begins operating a new facility.

But the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says that Iran must abide by a subsidiary agreement it signed in 2003 and give information on plants still at the design stage. Tehran has continued to defy the six nations – the US, UK, France, Germany, China and Russia – trying to negotiate a deal over their nuclear material. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last week that his country would build another 10 secret facilities to enrich uranium, although experts doubt whether it has the resources to do so. He has also said Iran plans to enrich uranium to 20%, a higher level than at present. On Friday, Iranian officials said they would allow nuclear inspectors in to the plants six months before they started up centrifuges used to enrich uranium.     Continue reading