BBC News | 15 July 2010 | 13:49 GMT
An Iranian scientist who said he was kidnapped by the CIA has said he was subjected to extreme mental and physical torture by the Americans. Shahram Amiri, who has flown from the US to Tehran, also denied being heavily involved in Iran’s nuclear programme. He disappeared last year and resurfaced this week in the Pakistani embassy in Washington asking to be repatriated. The US said he had been in the country "of his own free will" and denied he was tortured. Wearing a beige suit, a smiling Mr Amiri was greeted at Tehran’s international airport early on Thursday morning by his tearful son and wife, along with other family members and Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi.
Speaking at a news conference afterwards, he repeated his earlier claims that he had been abducted by US agents while undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina. Mr Amiri said he was placed under intense pressure by his interrogators to co-operate in the first months following his alleged kidnapping. "I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," he said, adding that Israeli agents had been present during the interrogations and that the CIA had offered him $50m (£32.8m) to remain in the US. "The Americans wanted me to say that I defected to America of my own will to use me for revealing some false information about Iran’s nuclear work. But with God’s will, I resisted." Mr Amiri offered no evidence, but said he would eventually. "I have some documents proving that I’ve not been free in the United States and have always been under the control of armed agents of US intelligence services."
He also denied he had been heavily involved in Iran’s nuclear programme, saying he was a "simple researcher who was working at a university". "I’m not involved in any confidential jobs. I had no classified information. "I had nothing to do with the Natanz and Fordo sites," he said, referring to Iran’s two uranium enrichment plants.
BBC News | Friday, 18 June 2010 | 09:54 GMT
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has criticised the unilateral US and EU sanctions on Iran that go beyond those approved by the UN Security Council. He said Russia "did not agree" to any separate sanctions when it backed a joint UN resolution last week. Meanwhile, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said US intelligence showed that Iran could be able to attack Europe with "scores" of missiles by 2020. He added that Russia seemed to have a "schizophrenic" approach to Iran. Moscow viewed Iran as a threat, but still pursued commercial ties with it, he told a US senate hearing in Washington. Western powers suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons – which Tehran denies.
In an interview that ran on Thursday, the Russian leader criticised the EU and US for acting unilaterally. "We didn’t agree to this when we discussed the joint resolution at the UN," Mr Medvedev told the Wall Street Journal. Russia this month agreed to back a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran, following months of US-led diplomacy. "A couple of years ago, that would have been impossible," Mr Medvedev said. "We should act collectively. If we do, we will have the desired result." The fresh EU sanctions approved in Brussels on Thursday include a ban on investments and technology transfers to Iran’s key oil and gas industry – measures that go further than the latest UN sanctions. Only a day earlier, the US announced sanctions that ban Americans from trading with a number of firms and individuals, including Iran’s Post Bank, its defence minister and the air force and missile command of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
BBC NEWS | 2010/05/17 | 20:42:03 GMT
There has been a cool international response to Iran’s announcement that it will send uranium abroad for enrichment after talks with Turkey and Brazil. The UN and Russia said the move was encouraging, but the US expressed concern at Iran’s statement that it would continue to enrich uranium. The US and the UK said work on a UN resolution imposing more sanctions on Tehran would continue. The West suspects Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at making weapons. Iran insists it is solely designed to meet its energy needs. Tehran hopes the new agreement – in which it would ship 1,200kg (2,645lb) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for higher-grade nuclear fuel for a research reactor – would avert new sanctions.
In a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil, Iran said it was prepared to move uranium within a month of its approval by the so-called Vienna Group (US, Russia, France and the IAEA). In return, Iran says it expects to receive 120kg of more highly enriched uranium (20%) – purity well below that used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons – within a year. The deal does not address the central nuclear issues dealt with by successive UN Security Council resolutions – Iran’s refusal to halt its enrichment programme. The US reacted by saying it still had serious concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme, although it did not reject the agreement.
Reuters | Thu Apr 22, 2010 | 12:10am IST
"We are not taking any options off the table as we pursue the pressure and engagement tracks," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. "The president always has at his disposal a full array of options, including use of the military … It is clearly not our preferred course of action but it has never been, nor is it now, off the table."
Morrell was responding to reported comments by a top U.S. defense official who was quoted in Singapore as saying a strike on Iran was off the table in the near term.
BBC NEWS | 2010/04/14 | 23:18:56 GMT
The US military has warned that Iran could produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb in one year. But it would take another three to five years to actually produce a "deliverable weapon that is usable," a senior general told Congress. The warning came as Iran said it had produced its first significant batch of more highly-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, negotiations have resumed at the UN on a possible Iran sanctions resolution over its nuclear programme. Speaking to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, two military officials said if Iran’s leadership decided to, enough highly-enriched uranium could be produced in one year to build a single atomic weapon. Lt Gen Ronald Burgess, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear plant were producing low-enriched uranium and were not yet being used to produce the more highly-enriched uranium needed for weapons.
Gen James Cartwright told the committee that if Iran did move to producing the 90%-enriched uranium needed for a bomb, more time would be needed to actually build and test the weapon. "Experience says it is going to take you three to five years" to reach the stage of having a "deliverable weapon that is usable… something that can actually create a detonation, an explosion that would be considered a nuclear weapon." Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Wednesday that 5kg (11 lbs) of uranium had been enriched at Natanz from 3.5% to the 20% needed to fuel a research reactor in Tehran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the further enrichment to begin in February after talks on a UN-brokered proposal for Iran to send its uranium abroad for enrichment broke down.
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."
AP | MSN News | Vienna | Feb. 18, 2010 | 4:26 p.m. ET
The U.N. nuclear agency on Thursday said it was worried Iran may currently be working on making a nuclear warhead, suggesting for the first time that Tehran had either resumed such work or never stopped at the time U.S. intelligence thought it did. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency appeared to put the U.N. nuclear monitor on the side of Germany, France, Britain and Israel. These nations and other U.S. allies have disputed the conclusions of a U.S. intelligence assessment published three years ago that said Tehran appeared to have suspended such work in 2003.
The U.S. assessment itself may be revised and is being looked at again by American intelligence agencies. While U.S. officials continue to say the 2007 conclusion was valid at the time, they have not ruled out the possibility that Tehran resumed such work sometime after that. Iran denies any interest in developing nuclear arms. But the confidential report, made available to The Associated Press, said Iran’s resistance to agency attempts to probe for signs of a nuclear cover-up “give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, told the official IRNA news agency that the report “verified the peaceful, nonmilitary nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.” Continue reading
CNN | February 17, 2010 | 1910 GMT (0310 HKT)
Iran’s supreme leader accused the United States of “spreading lies” about the Islamic state Wednesday, Iranian media reported. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected recent remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who just wrapped up a tour of the region. “Once again the Americans have sent their agent to go around the Persian Gulf like a vagabond and repeat the same lies,” he said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. “But so far no one has believed their words because America is not thinking of the interests of the region,” he continued. “On the contrary, [the United States] has always trampled as far as it could on the rights of the region’s countries for the sake of its own illegitimate interests.”
Clinton, answering questions at the town hall meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Monday called for United Nations sanctions to pressure Iranian “enterprises controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, which we believe is, in effect, supplanting the government of Iran.” “We see that the government of Iran, the supreme leader, the president, the parliament, is being supplanted, and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship,” Clinton said. Khamenei struck back in comments carried by Iranian media. “Iran will not allow a few countries to ruin the future of the world,” he said, according to Iran’s government-backed Press TV. The United States and its allies believe that Iran is developing the technology to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian energy and medical use.
BBC NEWS | 2010/02/16 | 12:02:01 GMT
Iran has attacked US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her suggestion that the country is becoming a “military dictatorship”. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called Monday’s statement in Qatar a “new deception”. Mrs. Clinton had said the government of Tehran was being “supplanted” by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Meanwhile the Russian government has warned Iran that they might yet agree to further sanctions. Iran should improve its co-operation with the UN nuclear body the International Atomic Energy Agency and allay fears that its nuclear programme is for military use, a Kremlin spokeswoman said. “The international community must be sure that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful. But if these obligations are not fulfilled then nobody can rule out the use of sanctions,” said Natalya Timakova.
Speaking earlier on Tuesday in Iran, Mr. Mottaki said “America itself is trapped in a kind of military dictatorship, fuelling tension in the region.” His remarks were reported by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency. “America has a wrong attitude toward the issues in the Middle East and it is a continuation of their past wrong policies,” he said. Continue reading
The Washington Post | 5:47 am ET | Feb. 11, 2010
Iran is experiencing surprising setbacks in its efforts to enrich uranium, according to new assessments that suggest that equipment failures and other difficulties could undermine that nation’s plans for dramatically scaling up its nuclear program. Former U.S. officials and independent nuclear experts say continued technical problems could also delay — though probably not halt — Iran’s march toward achieving nuclear-weapons capability, giving the United States and its allies more time to press for a diplomatic solution. In recent months, Israeli officials have been less vocal in their demands that Western nations curtail Iran’s nuclear program. Indications of Iran’s diminished capacity to enrich uranium arise just as the Obama administration begins to take sterner action to compel Iran to abandon enrichment. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced new U.S. sanctions against companies it says are affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a key player in the country’s nuclear and missile programs.
While Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, Western nations suspect that the country is intent on developing an atomic bomb. The program prompts frequent international posturing, such as Iran’s announcement last year that it would expand its nuclear facilities tenfold and more recent statements from Western leaders that the time has come to apply tougher international sanctions against the country. Beneath this rhetoric, U.N. reports over the last year have shown a drop in production at Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant, near the city of Natanz. Now a new assessment, based on three years of internal data from U.N. nuclear inspections, suggests that Iran’s mechanical woes are deeper than previously known. At least through the end of 2009, the Natanz plant appears to have performed so poorly that sabotage cannot be ruled out as an explanation, according to a draft study by David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). A copy of the report was provided to The Washington Post. Continue reading
The country is facing increasing international pressure to support sanctions. But China will require something in return.
Newsweek | Feb 9, 2010
Has Iran finally gone too far, pushing China into changing its mind about sanctions? Maybe not just yet. Tuesday, after Iran ratcheted up its uranium-enrichment program—elevating the purity of its enriched product to 20 percent—Beijing looked increasingly isolated in its calls to continue negotiations. “To talk about sanctions at the moment will complicate the situation and might stand in the way of finding a diplomatic solution,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a conference in Europe. Western countries have been lobbying China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, to join them in supporting increased sanctions against the Tehran regime. The U.S. in particular has made known that it hopes to push through a regimen of “crippling sanctions” early this year. But Chinese officials have stuck to their guns, arguing that sanctions don’t work.
The haggling could go on for months. On Tuesday, Chinese officials renewed calls for the international community to support a proposal backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency that would allow Tehran to procure nuclear fuel for its medical-research reactor in exchange for its low-enriched uranium. “We expect and back all sides to reach an early agreement on the IAEA-raised draft proposal regarding the Tehran research reactor, which will help solve the issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular briefing.
BBC NEWS | 2010/02/06 | 12:23:11 GMT
Western powers have responded with scepticism to a claim by Iran that a deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel could now be close. Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a security conference in Germany that an agreement could be reached in a “not too distant future”. But the US and European Union said they were unconvinced and Iran must make a meaningful offer or face new sanctions. China, which opposes further sanctions, said talks were at a “crucial stage”. The US and its allies fear Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful in purpose.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in Ankara, cast doubt on Iran’s talk of an imminent deal, telling reporters: “I don’t have the sense that we’re close to an agreement.” If Iran was prepared to take up the proposal put forward by the so-called P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, UK and France plus Germany – on handing over its low-enriched uranium then it should take that message to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, he said. He suggested that Western powers needed to think about whether it was now time to take a “different tack” on Iran. Meanwhile, Continue reading
BBC NEWS | Monday, 14 December 2009 | 22:08 GMT
A planned meeting of diplomats from world powers on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme has been cancelled. Envoys from the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany had been due to meet, reportedly either in Brussels or at the Copenhagen climate conference. Unnamed US sources told reporters China had had scheduling problems. There will now be a live conference by phone. A US spokesman said the diplomats looked forward to continuing their consultations on how to deal with Iran.
Correspondents say the news marks a setback for efforts to present a unified front on Iran in the face of continued defiance from Tehran. The Iranians are under UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop enriching uranium. The US and France said it was time to impose new sanctions last week, after a UN report suggested that Iran was trying to defy some of the existing curbs.