As Iran failed to offer satisfactory explanation over a ship smuggling arms to Senegal, Senegal decided to recall its ambassador to Iran. The weapons were found hidden under building materials on a ship at Lagos in October. Three Nigerians and an Iranian were charged with importing arms from Iran to Gambia. Gambia cut relations with Iran last month on the same reason.
However, it is believed that the actual destination for the arms is a south Senegal region called Casamance where a separatist rebellion has been active supposedly sponsored by the neighbouring Gambia. A peace deal is said to be existing in the region.
Iran has said so far that the shipment belonged to a private company and it was destined to a West African country. Interestingly, Iran’s foreign minister was sacked a few days back when he was visiting Senegal. Senegal said Iran could not provide satisfactory reason for the shipment.
Article first published as IAEA Worries Over North Koreaâ€™s New Uranium Enrichment Facility on Technorati.
The nuclear watchdog of United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency expressed concerns over supposed newly developed Uranium enrichment facility in North Korea. The head of the IAEA Yukio Amano said he learned of recent reports about a new Uranium enrichment facility, as well as the construction of a new light water reactor, in North Korea, BBC news reported.
Last month, a US scientist reportedly had been shown a new Uranium enrichment plant with at least 1,000 centrifuges. This week, North Korea said the plant was operating with thousands of centrifuges. North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors, last year. The inspectors have not been allowed into North Korea since then. North Korea tested nuclear devices twice in 2006 and 2009. When it said it tested a nuclear missile in 2009, many countries doubted whether North Korea did it as it claimed. They were doubtful of North Korea’s capacity to build a full-fledged nuclear missile.
The American nuclear scientist, Siegfried Hecker, visited the plant at Yongbyon in mid-November and reportedly said he was stunned by the sophistication of the equipment he was shown.
Many international analysts say North Korea’s nuclear programme is mainly aimed at extracting more concessions from six partite talks involving two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US. South Korea and the US have been offering aid to North Korea in return to allowing IAEA inspectors to assess the North Korean capacity to build nuclear arms and finally diffusing them. Earlier this year, North Korea invited a special US envoy to resume talks. Western governments assessed then that North Korea was feeling pain of the international sanctions slapped against it, as a result of expulsion of IAEA inspectors.
Two Germans, arrested in Iran a week ago, are charged with spying. The two Germans interviewed the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The two Germans were not identified with their names on Iranian state Tele Vision. They were initially accused of illegally working as reporters in Iran.
The sentence of stoning death handed to the woman for adultery sparked outrage from international community. The European Union called the sentence “barbaric.” The Vatican pleaded for clemency. The most commendable reaction was from Brazil that offered asylum to the woman. But, Iran government and its justice system did not receive the international outcry. Rather, it was angered by the global reaction. Maybe, Iran treated the matter as internal.
Iran President Ahmadi Nezad denied that the woman was sentenced with stoning to death while he was in the US in September and accused the Western media for discrediting Iran. At least he agreed that stoning a woman to death for any reason is a discredit for a nation. If he really thinks that it is discredit to his country, he should stop the sentence. But, now the woman is being considered for complicity in the murder of her husband. If she is proved guilty in murder case, she will be hanged to death as per foreign ministry spokesperson of Iran.
CNN March 23, 2010 10:51 a.m. EDT
So what? I want to ask. You supplied arms, ammunition, WMDs and even chemical gas to Saddam’s Iraq to make him strong against Iran. When he turns back to you, you attack him on the pretext of holding the same WMDs supplied by you. In the same way you helped Afghan warlords of all kinds, Laden and Taliban to make them strong against USSR. Then you wanted Afghanistan in your hold. When Afghans rejected, you cruelly attacked them with all types of modern, deadliest weapons under the pretext of ‘War on Terrorism’, in which thousands perished. Still you are there in Iraq and Afghanistan even people there are against you. Now you are ready to accuse Iran training Taliban simply because you are not able to defeat them decisively, even if both of them are dead rivals by their most sacred religious beliefs. Who can be most terrorist than the US which actually dropped two Atom bombs on Japan, killed lakhs of people and made even more lakhs of people to suffer for decades due to radio-activity. Isn’t this the hypocrisy of the highest order? Maybe Iran is helping Taliban. So what’s wrong in it according to your unprincipled principles? I doubt that the US is preparing ground for it’s future attack on Iran. –nvs
Iran is helping train Taliban fighters within its borders, according to US military and intelligence officials. The United States has already said that the Taliban may be receiving limited training from the Iranians in Afghanistan, but the officials told CNN that training in the use of small arms was occurring within Iran. "We’ve known for some time that Iran has been a source for both materiel and trained fighters for Taliban elements in Afghanistan," Army Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis said Monday. But, he said, it is unknown whether that training is occurring with the support of Tehran, or it is "simply something that is happening beyond the government’s control." "For some years, Iran has supplied arms and munitions to the Afghan Taliban," said a US intelligence official. "It has also helped conduct at least small-scale weapons training for the Taliban. There’s reason to believe that some of this training has occurred in Iran." The officials who spoke with CNN did not say how many Taliban fighters have been trained in Iran, or whether the training was sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iranian government.
BBC NEWS | 2010/01/12 | 14:39:02 GMT
Iranian state media have accused Israel and the US of being involved in a bomb attack which killed an Iranian physicist in Tehran. State broadcaster Irib quoted Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman as saying there were signs of Israeli and US involvement “in the terrorist act.” The US state department dismissed the allegation as “absurd.” Masoud Ali Mohammadi – described as a “devoted revolutionary professor” – was killed by a remotely-controlled bomb.
Reports in the Iranian media described Mr. Mohammadi as a nuclear physicist, but it appears that his field of study was quantum theory. There was also confusion as to whether the attack had any political overtones. One university official said Mr. Mohammadi was not a political figure. But other reports said his name appeared on a list of academics backing opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi before the 2009 presidential election. Tensions have been high in Iran since the disputed election led to mass protests against the government. Mr. Mohammadi, who worked at Tehran University, “was killed in a booby-trapped motorbike blast” in the city’s northern Qeytariyeh district, state-run Press TV reported earlier. It showed pictures from the scene of the blast, saying windows in the nearby buildings had been shattered by the force of the explosion. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2010/01/05 | 13:20:31 GMT
Iran has banned its citizens from co-operating with foreign organisations it says are trying to destabilise the government, state media has reported. The 60 blacklisted groups include human rights groups, Iranian opposition websites and media groups such as the BBC and US broadcasters. Iran’s deputy intelligence minister told Press TV the groups were involved in a “soft war” against the state. The official said the groups had helped incite post-election unrest.
The BBC, Voice of America, the US National Defense University, the Soros Foundation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the East European Democratic Centre (EEDC) were among the organisations named. Tehran has issued similar bans in the past and the terms of the ban itself, remain unclear. But Press TV quoted the official as saying that co-operating with the groups, signing contracts with them or receiving assistance from them was illegal. He said it was also illegal for foreign parties to receive funding from foreign countries and warned citizens to avoid “any unusual relations” with foreign embassies and nationals. Continue reading
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.
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
BBC NEWS | 2009/12/01 | 13:19:25 GMT
An Iranian official has said “serious” measures will be taken against a UK yacht crew it if is proved they had “evil intentions.” The five Britons are being detained by the Iranian navy after the Volvo 60 yacht was stopped on 25 November. The Foreign Office said Luke Porter, Oliver Smith, David Bloomer, Oliver Young and Sam Usher may have “strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters.” The Team Pindar-backed yacht was sailing from Bahrain to Dubai. Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaie, President Ahmadinejad’s head of staff, told Iran’s Fars news agency: “Judiciary will decide about the five… naturally our measures will be hard and serious if we find out they had evil intentions.”
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was expecting the Iranians to make a statement later on Tuesday. He also said he hoped the matter would be resolved “soon” and that there was “no confrontation or argument.” Mr. Miliband said: “This is a human story of five young yachtsmen. It’s got nothing to do with politics, it’s got nothing to do with nuclear enrichment programmes… it has no relationship to any of the other, bigger issues.” He added: “They were going about their sport and it seems they may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters.” The Foreign Office says it believes the five sailors are being held on the island of Sirri. It said it was seeking confirmation of this from the Iranian authorities. The sailors are understood to be safe and well. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/30 | 09:33:17 GMT
A top Iranian official has accused the West of provoking his country into launching a plan to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants. Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi said a UN demand for Iran to halt work on a recently revealed site had “prompted the government to approve the plan.” “Apparently the West doesn’t want to understand Iran’s peaceful message,” he told Iranian state radio. Tehran’s move has fuelled further concerns over its nuclear programme. Western powers say Iran is trying to develop nuclear arms. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.
A source in Russia’s foreign ministry told local news agencies on Monday that Russia, which supplies much of Iran’s nuclear technology, was “seriously concerned by the latest statements of the Iranian leadership.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a French radio programme that Iran was being “a bit childish.” “Iran is playing an extremely dangerous game,” he said. “There’s no coherence in all this, other than a gut reaction.” Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/27 | 17:44:22 GMT
The UN nuclear watchdog’s governing body has passed a resolution condemning Iran for developing a uranium enrichment site in secret. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also demanded that Iran freeze the project immediately. The resolution, the first against Iran in nearly four years, was passed by a 25-3 margin with six abstentions. Iran called the move “useless” but the US said it showed time was running out for Iran to address key issues. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes, but the US says it is seeking nuclear weapons. In September, it emerged that as well as its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, Iran had a second such facility near the town of Qom. The revelation deepened Western fears about the country’s nuclear ambitions.
The IAEA resolution was passed with rare Russian and Chinese backing. Only Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia voted against it. It called on Iran to reveal the purpose of the second plant and confirm that it is not building any other undeclared nuclear facilities. After the resolution, the US said Iran needed to address “the growing international deficit of confidence in its intentions.” “Our patience and that of the international community is limited, and time is running out,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will be responsible for its own growing isolation and the consequences.” Speaking at a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that sanctions were the next step if Iran did not respond to what was “a very clear vote.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Iran to react “with full seriousness” to the resolution. Continue reading
Xinhua | 2009-11-26 | 23:39:06
The chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, admitted on Thursday that consultations with Iran on its nuclear issue reached a deadlock. ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), voiced “regret” that Iran had not responded to the agency’s proposal of shipping its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for further purification.
He said Iran’s agreement to this proposal would help the international community to rebuild confidence in Tehran over the nuclear issue. It is regrettable that this opportunity was not seized by Iran, he said at the IAEA Board of Governors’ meeting in Vienna. ElBaradei added that this deadlock would be unable to break unless Iran engages fully with the UN agency. With regard to the issue of the newly discovered nuclear plant in Qom, ElBaradei said the facility was “under construction” with about 3,000 centrifuges to produce enriched uranium. “Iran failed to notify the agency of the existence of this facility,” which violated the terms of the relevant nuclear safeguards, ElBaradei said. The building of the uranium enrichment plant in Qom damaged Iran’s credibility, he said.
Reuters | Wed Sep 30, 2009 | 9:09pm IST
Suddenly, the Iranian “existential threat” seems to have receded from Israel’s horizon. It began with a bombshell Sept 18 newspaper interview in which Defence Minister Ehud Barak asserted that a nuclear-armed Iran could not destroy the Jewish state. Similar public remarks followed from the general in charge of all military operations. Even hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman now sounds skittish about his government’s long hinted-at willingness to go to war rather than see an enemy get the means to make a bomb. “God forbid — there’s no need to attack anything,” he told Israel’s Channel Two television on Monday. While Israeli officials insist that “all” options remain available for tackling their arch-foe, few dispute that Barak — the top strategist, alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — has taken a new rhetorical tack as major world powers prepare to revive negotiations with Tehran on Thursday.
Short on the forces necessary to deliver permanent damage to Iranian nuclear sites, the Israelis hope the new talks will work, one official said — or, failing that, eventually trigger U.S.-led military intervention. “The last thing we need to do right now is to distract from the diplomacy with the kind of threats that Iran can point to as ‘proof’ that they, not us, are the endangered party,” the Israeli official said. Iran denies seeking Continue reading
Reuters | Yahoo | Thu, Nov 19 | 03:18 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a strong warning to Iran on Thursday of consequences of its failure to respond to the offer of a nuclear deal and could have a package of steps to take “within weeks.” But Iran’s foreign minister rejected talk of further sanctions, saying the West had learnt from “failed experiences” of the past. Iran on Wednesday rejected a deal to send enriched uranium abroad for further processing, defying Washington and its allies which had called on Tehran to accept a deal which aimed to delay Iran’s potential ability to make bombs by at least a year by divesting the country of most of its enriched uranium. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had said Iran should send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.
“Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal … and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences,” Obama said at a joint news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during a visit to Seoul. He said Iran would not be given an unlimited amount of time, likening the Iranian nuclear issue to the years of stop-and-start negotiations with North Korea about its nuclear ambitions. “We weren’t going to duplicate what has happened with North Korea, in which talks just continue forever without any actual resolution to the issue,” said Obama, who has advocated a policy of increased engagement, rather than confrontation, on thorny international issues. Continue reading
Reuters | Tue Nov 17, 2009 | 6:38pm IST
Iran said it temporarily boosted gasoline production by about 30 percent on Tuesday to show the West it can cope with any sanctions targeting its fuel imports. Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said the move to raise output by 14 million litres per day increased total output to 58.5 million litres. Domestic consumption stands at about 66.5 million litres per day. The higher production level, carried out at three southern plants, would only last for a few days, he said, making clear it was not economical in the long run. “With this move we would like to show that the West cannot use any limitations on selling gasoline to Iran as a tool against the Islamic Republic,” Mirkazemi told a news conference. He also said Iran faced no problems in importing gasoline as it had a “good list” of suppliers. It also had at least 1.5 billion litres in storage at all times. “Today, no new limitations, either from America or any other country, can be imposed against the Iranian nation,” he said. Iran is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter but lacks sufficient refining capacity to meet domestic gasoline needs, forcing it to import up to 40 percent of requirements. This makes Iran vulnerable to any Western decision to target the gasoline trade as a way to put pressure on Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme. Iran says it is aimed at generating electricity but the United States and other Western governments say they believe it is seeking to build an atomic bomb. Iranian officials have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of sanctions, including three rounds imposed by the U.N. “Despite all restrictions in the past 30 years, Iran has become stronger day by day,” Mirkazemi said. A U.S. Senate panel last month cleared a bill to impose sanctions on companies providing gasoline to Iran and to limit other dealings if talks fail to resolve the standoff. Continue reading