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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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