BBC News | Thursday, 10 June 2010 | 09:07 GMT
Iran’s parliament is to reconsider relations with the UN nuclear watchdog, following the latest round of UN sanctions, state media says. The announcement by National Security and Foreign Policy Committee head Alaeddin Boroujerdi did not specify what action might be taken. But correspondents say options could include restricting access by UN inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites. President Ahmadinejad has dismissed the UN sanctions as a "used handkerchief". Iran insists it wants only atomic energy, but a number of Western countries suspect it of trying to build nuclear weapons.
Russian sale ‘off’
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Tehran for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment programme. The measures were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China. Beijing said on Thursday it "highly values" its relations with the Islamic republic, after incurring Tehran’s anger by voting for the measures. Meanwhile, Russia said the sanctions meant it could not supply Iran with the S-300 anti-missile system Tehran had ordered, a military source told Moscow’s Interfax news agency. The resolution includes measures to prohibit Iran from buying heavy weapons such as missiles and helicopters. The Security Council voted by 12 votes to two in favour; Brazil and Turkey voted against, while Lebanon abstained.
BBC News | Wednesday, 9 June 2010 | 16:34 GMT
The UN Security Council has voted in favour of fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The council voted 12 to two, with one abstention, in favour of a fourth round of sanctions, including tighter finance curbs and an expanded arms embargo. The US welcomed the move and said Iran must choose a "wiser course". But Iran’s envoy to the UN’s nuclear watchdog Ali Asghar Soltanieh vowed Tehran would continue its uranium enrichment activities. "Nothing will change," he said. The US and its allies fear Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists its programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use.
The Security Council resolution was opposed by Turkey and Brazil. They had earlier brokered a deal with Iran on uranium enrichment. Lebanon abstained. The new sanctions were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China on Tuesday. There are no crippling economic sanctions and there is no oil embargo. Those passed include prohibiting Iran from buying heavy weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles. They also toughen rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks and increase the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted with asset freezes and travel bans. There is also a new framework of cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials.
Hailing the vote, the US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: "The Security Council has risen to its responsibilities and now Iran should choose a wiser course." UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision sent a "strong statement of international resolve", increasing the pressure on Iran to meet its obligations. German counterpart Guido Westerwelle said this was "a clear signal from the international community that atomic weapons for Iran are not acceptable". However, both Turkey and Brazil spoke out in opposition, saying the deal they had brokered with Iran had not been given time.
Reuters | Tue Apr 13, 2010 | 3:01pm IST
China said on Tuesday it wanted any UN Security Council action on Iran to promote a diplomatic way out of the nuclear standoff, edging closer to openly endorsing a resolution while hedging on sanctions. The remarks from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu followed a meeting on Monday between Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama in which, according to a US official, Hu agreed his government would help craft a new Security Council resolution pressing Iran over its nuclear activities. Jiang was not so blunt. But her comments appeared to leave scant doubt that Beijing accepts that fresh Security Council action over Iran is coming, even if China wants room to negotiate over the sanctions proposed by Western powers. "We believe that the Security Council’s relevant actions should be conducive to easing the situation and conducive to promoting a fitting solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations," Jiang told a news conference in Beijing, answering a question about the talks between Hu and Obama in Washington D.C.
"China supports a dual-track strategy and has always believed that dialogue and negotiations are the optimal channels for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue." The "dual-track" is diplomatic shorthand for offering Tehran economic and political incentives if it suspends its nuclear enrichment, and threats of sanctions if it refuses. China has close economic ties with Iran and has so far been reluctant to agree to tougher sanctions. Beijing is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, each with the power to veto any proposed resolution. The five powers and Germany together make up the "P5+1" group that steers international talks on the Iran nuclear dispute.
Reuters | Sun Apr 11, 2010 | 8:16pm IST
Iran is not yet "nuclear capable" and the U.S. government has not concluded that it is inevitable that Tehran will get the bomb, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said in remarks aired on Sunday. "It is our judgment … they are not nuclear capable, not yet," Gates, the U.S. defense secretary, said on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Asked if the U.S. government had concluded this was inevitable, Gates said, "No. We have not … drawn that conclusion at all, and in fact we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons." However, he added that "they (the Iranians) are continuing to make progress on these (nuclear) programs. It is going slower than they anticipated but they are moving in that direction."
U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies. But some critics of Obama’s attempts to engage Iran have said they fear his administration may be preparing to shift from a strategy of keeping Iran from getting the bomb to a strategy of containing a nuclear-armed Iran. "We are probably going to get another U.N. Security Council resolution" of sanctions on Iran, Gates told NBC.
Reuters | Thu Apr 8, 2010 | 6:59pm IST
Iran’s president said on Thursday he would not plead with opponents of Tehran’s nuclear programme in order to avoid sanctions as Russia and the United States said new measures might be necessary. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on Wednesday called U.S. President Barack Obama a nuclear-armed "cowboy", said Iran would "try to make an opportunity out of sanctions" rather than change its stance to avoid them. "We do not welcome the idea of threat or sanctions, but we would never implore those who threaten us with sanctions to reverse their sanctions against us," he was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
Ahmadinejad was speaking as Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Prague. The two were "working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran", Obama said. Medvedev said he was unhappy with Iran’s stance over its nuclear programme which the West believes is aimed at developing atomic weapons. "Tehran is not reacting to a range of suggested constructive compromise agreements. We can’t close our eyes to this. That is why I do not exclude that Security Council will have to examine this question again," Medvedev told reporters. Obama is hoping to persuade Russia and China — both Security Council veto holders — to drop their traditional reluctance to the new sanctions. His campaign is likely to continue next week when both Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao attend a summit on nuclear security in Washington.
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
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
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
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 | 2010/01/06 | 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.
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.
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.
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
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