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November 25, 2013

Iran to reduce nuclear enrichment in exchange for sanctions reduction

Iran to reduce nuclear enrichment in exchange for sanctions reduction

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Monday, November 25, 2013

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The negotiations in Geneva on Sunday.
Image: US Department of State.

Yesterday in Geneva, Iran and the P5+1 nations — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council; United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and Russia; plus Germany — reached a six-month deal over Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme. Iran is to reduce its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of some economic sanctions.

Iran has agreed to not build any new enrichment facilities, to halt enrichment of uranium past a purity of 5%, to “neutralise” a stockpile of nearly 200kg of enriched uranium of a purity of nearly 20%, to not install new centrifuges, and to disable a number of existing centrifuges. They also have to allow access for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to a number of sites including Natanz and Fordo, as well as information on the reactor at Arak.

In return, the P5+1 is to provide “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief from economic sanctions including removal of specific trade sanctions on precious metals, including gold; the automotive sector; and oil. The sanctions relief is worth around US$7 billion (about 5 billion).

In Tehran, Iran’s negotiators were welcomed home at the airport by a gathering of supporters holding placards. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians reportedly watched coverage of the negotiations through the Iranian night.

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, told reporters, “[i]n this agreement, the right of [the] Iranian nation to enrich uranium was accepted by world powers”. The United States contests this.

US president Barack Obama welcomed the deal: “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.” He said the provisions of the deal “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb”.

British prime minister David Cameron said the deal was an “important first step” and Iran was “further away from getting a nuclear weapon”.

John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, appeared with British foreign minister William Hague at a press conference in London. Kerry told reporters: “Now the really hard part begins, and that is the effort to get the comprehensive agreement, which will require enormous steps in terms of verification, transparency and accountability”.

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, said the deal was a “historic mistake” and said the Iranians had agreed only to “cosmetic concessions” that “can be undone by the Iranians within weeks”. “Israel”, he said, “is not bound to this agreement while Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel. Israel has the right to protect itself in the face of any threat. I wish to reiterate that as the prime minister of Israel — Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear military capabilities.” He also said: “Iran is receiving billions of dollars in relief in the sanctions without paying any sort of price. Iran is receiving written approval to violate UN Security Council resolutions”.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli economic minister, warned of the prospects of a nuclear Iran: “If in another five or six years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning”.

A spokesman for President Obama stated: “the United States will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions”. Obama phoned Netanyahu on Sunday to try and reassure him.



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August 26, 2013

United States spies accused of illegally bugging the United Nations headquarters

United States spies accused of illegally bugging the United Nations headquarters

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Monday, August 26, 2013

File photo of the sign of the National Security Agency headquarters.
Image: National Security Agency.

German weekly publication Der Spiegel yesterday accused the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) of spying on the United Nations headquarters in New York. The magazine claims to have access to official NSA documents, provided by former NSA and CIA computer specialist and current fugitive Edward Snowden.

If the allegations of bugging are confirmed, it would mean that the United States has breached International Treaties including the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Treaty states that countries must not carry out covert operations that relate to the UN’s activities.

“The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action”, the Convention stipulates.

The documents analysed by Der Spiegel indicate that the NSA runs bugging programs in more than 80 embassies and consulates across the globe, in what is reportedly called the “Special Collection Service”.

Der Spiegel claimed that, according to their intelligence, the NSA was able to bug the UN headquarters by hacking into its video conferencing system in the summer of 2012. Their article included quotes from the leaked documents like ““The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!)”.

Allegedly, decoded UN communications rose from 12 to 458 within three weeks of the NSA gaining access. Analysed documents also indicated the NSA found evidence Chinese spies were also monitoring the UN, and began logging what the Chinese were accessing.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union are said to be among the organisations NSA spies have been targeting. The US government has previously denied any wrongdoing by the NSA, although President Barack Obama this month announced plans to curb government spying activities.



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March 3, 2012

On the campaign trail, February 2012

On the campaign trail, February 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, February 2012

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The following is the fourth in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail, the Libertarian Party holds a primary in Missouri, Wikinews interviews a lesser-known Republican candidate focused on the nuclear situation in Iran, and a Democratic candidate disputes a “one-dimensional” label.

Summary

In February 2012, three well-known figures announced third party runs. Comedienne Roseanne Barr announced she would seek the Green Party‘s presidential nomination. Former Congressman Virgil Goode opened a Constitution Party campaign. And former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer proclaimed he would seek the Reform Party presidential nomination in addition to Americans Elect.

Santorum bows his head to pray during a February fundraiser in Arizona.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Mitt Romney won the endorsement of businessman Donald Trump, and was victorious in the February 4 Nevada caucus. Three days later, Rick Santorum gained momentum with a sweep of three non-binding contests in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Though Romney gained a victory in the Maine caucus, Santorum’s momentum pushed him ahead. He led the polls in Romney’s former homestate of Michigan, shot to first place in national opinion polls, and won the endorsement of former Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who retracted his support for Romney. Talk increased of someone else entering the GOP race if Romney lost Michigan.

Santorum’s rise and the Obama administration’s new contraceptive mandate brought social issues to the forefront of the GOP race. The role of church and state gained prominence as Santorum remarked that hearing President John F. Kennedy‘s 1960 speech on separation of two, “makes him throw up”. After a poor performance in the month’s final GOP debate, Santorum began to fall in the Michigan polls. However, members of the Democratic Party planned to vote for Santorum in the open primary, and Santorum ran robo-calls to Democrats asking for their support. In the end, Romney won in both Michigan and Arizona.

Newt Gingrich, who largely skipped Michigan and Arizona, focused early on the Super Tuesday states, which hold their primaries in the first week of March. Ron Paul continued his run as well following a close second place finish in Maine. At the end of the month, rumors spread of a Paul-Romney alliance after an analysis of previous debates showed that Paul never attacked Romney directly, and after Paul’s son Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said “it would be an honor to be considered” as Romney’s running mate. A spokesman for Ron Paul’s campaign denied the rumors.

Missouri Libertarian Party primary results

In Missouri, the Libertarian Party held its first primary of the 2012 election cycle. Parliamentary advocate James Ogle, the only candidate listed on the ballot, edged “uncommitted” 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent to win the majority of votes. This was something a Libertarian candidate could not accomplish during the 2008 primary, when “uncommitted” won a plurality.

██ James Ogle

██ Uncommitted

Image: William S. Saturn.

Ogle has operated and promoted a fantasy government project based on the Sainte-Laguë method of voting since 1993. It is known as the USA Parliament. Ogle believes his username for the project — Joogle, a combination of his surname and first and middle initials — served as a basis for the name of the search engine Google; for his campaign, he uses the slogan “Go Ogle”.

To appear on the Missouri ballot, Ogle paid a filing fee of $1000. He was the only Libertarian candidate to do so. Ogle thinks this happened because he is “accessible” in comparison to his opponents, “perhaps the other candidates couldn’t be reached, and since there was about a 48 hour deadline to file the papers, they either didn’t want to spend the $30 on overnight postage, they simply didn’t know or else they didn’t want to file.” Other candidates for the Libertarian Party nomination, who missed the ballot, include former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, former air traffic controller RJ Harris, and activist R. Lee Wrights.

Just before the primary, an article in the Missourian newspaper chronicled Ogle’s campaign. He believes this contributed to his victory. In the story, he “was able to explain about ranked choice voting, the Libertarian’s philosophy of the non initiation of force, smaller government and more liberty.” In addition, the report mentioned Ogle’s desire to be the running mate of Green Party presidential candidate Roseanne Barr.

According to Ogle: “the combination of all these events, somehow could have prompted more to ask for the Libertarian ballot when they went to the voting booth.”

The non-binding primary is the only contest the Libertarian Party will hold before its nominating convention in May. California is also to hold a primary, but it is scheduled after the nomination. Ogle is to appear on the California ballot.

Republican focuses on Iran

Republican presidential candidate Hugh Cort, a psychiatrist and President of the non-profit American Foundation for Counter-Terrorism Policy and Research, describes his campaign’s status as “wait-and-see”. In December, he participated in the Republican Party’s lesser-known candidates forum, and was included on the New Hampshire Republican primary ballot. He received a total of three votes.

Nevertheless, Cort’s main area of concern is the nuclear situation in Iran, which garnered significant press in February. Iran, which claims it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from monitoring a site suspected of containing nuclear weapons research. Increasing western sanctions against the country have resulted in threats from the government that it will cut off oil exports to Europe and/or close the strategic Strait of Hormuz. This talk has affected the price of crude oil. Commentators have suggested that war is looming.

Republican Hugh Cort
Image: Marc Nozell.

Cort, who has written a book entitled The American Hiroshima: Iran’s Plan for a Nuclear Attack on the United States, which he gave to Mitt Romney, believes Iran already has a nuclear weapon and that an attack on the United States is “very likely to happen in the very near future.” He tells Wikinews that if “Iran does detonate some nuclear bombs in American cities, I would consider continuing my run for President, under the assumption that perhaps America would like to elect someone who knows something about counter-terrorism.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow should the president address the nuclear situation in Iran?

Hugh Cort: The President should say that America will help Israel to take out Iran’s nuclear sites. He should also prepare America for the possibility that Iran may have nuclear bombs already here, giving instructions on how to cope if a nuclear bomb should go off. Although some would say not to take out Iran’s nuclear sites for fear of retaliation from Iran, if we let Iran get nuclear weapons, they will then make much more devastating nuclear bombs, such as plutonium bombs with a 5 Megaton yield (350 times the size of a Hiroshima blast). With the bombs that Iran may already have now, they could damage America, but America would survive. If they are allowed to make the bigger bombs (for example 100 Megaton bombs) they would destroy America. Remember, Iran’s leaders have a suicide bomber’s mentality—they do not fear death. In fact, Ahmadinejad has said the role of Iran is to be a martyr, in order to bring about the destruction of America and Israel which will usher in the coming of his messiah, the “12th Imam”, or “Mahdi“. The leaders of Iran are religious fanatics who will not listen to reason.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngHow did Mitt Romney react when you handed him your book?

Hugh Cort: I did not personally give my book to Mitt Romney—a friend of mine in Florida did. She said he took it seriously, as have two Governors of Alabama, several Senators, and many others. When I met in the Eisenhower Office Building in the White House compound with the Senior Director for Counter-Terrorism of the National Security Council, Nick Rasmussen, he took our research very seriously.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhich of the presidential candidates is best equipped to handle the Iran situation?

Hugh Cort: I believe the Presidential candidate best able to handle the Iran situation, other than myself, is Newt Gingrich, closely followed by Rick Santorum, closely followed by Mitt Romney. All three would do a much better job than Obama. Ron Paul, unfortunately, although he is good on the economy, is a dismal failure in foreign policy and is totally naïve on the very grave threat of the Iran situation.

More than one-dimensional?

Democratic presidential candidate Randall Terry is best known as an anti-abortion advocate. However, he says he is not the “one-dimensional” character portrayed in the press. He tells Wikinews that in addition to his activism, he has experience in theology, foreign policy, and music.

Randall Terry
Image: Marc Nozell.

Terry finished second in the Missouri Democratic primary in February and ranks above all primary challengers to President Barack Obama. He received some media attention this month for attempting to run Super Bowl advertisements in Chicago that showed aborted fetuses. A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling prevented him from showing the ads since he is not on the Illinois Democratic primary ballot. However, after the Super Bowl, Terry was able to target the ads in Oklahoma. He will be on that state’s March 6 primary ballot, and federal law requires stations to show paid advertisements for “legally qualified candidates”.

After this and a February 22 Daily Caller report that conservative icon Ann Coulter planned to speak at a Terry fundraiser, Wikinews caught up with Terry.

“I have obtained a one-dimensional personality in the news”, says Terry, “I have a Masters in Diplomacy and International Terrorism from Norwich University…I have a BA in Theology. A BA in Communications from the SUNY [State University of New York]. A daily TV show seen in 44 markets. [And] I have lectured at the Vatican.”

He mentions that he authored two papers on Islamic terrorism, which are accessible from his campaign website. These are titled, “How do the words and deeds of Islamic terrorists, or Muslims who call for acts of terror and violence, emulate the words and deeds of Muhammad?” and “Is Islamic Shaira [sic] Law Incompatible With International Laws of Human Rights for Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion and Expression?”

Terry adds, “I used to be an accomplished musician.” His songs “I’m Cryin for you Baby”, “I Do”, “Te Deum”, “United We Stand”, and “Let Those Cookies Burn” can be heard on his website.



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February 20, 2012

UK politician foresees nuclear Iran triggering new Middle Eastern cold war

UK politician foresees nuclear Iran triggering new Middle Eastern cold war

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Monday, February 20, 2012

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British Foreign Secretary William Hague has described a possibility of a new cold war in the Middle East due to the Iranian nuclear programme. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggests negotiating with Iran by asking it to disprove the allegations of developing nuclear weapons.

The comments were made by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, pictured here in 2010.

“If [the Iranians] obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons,” Hague said. “The most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun.” Ex-UK diplomat Sir Richard Dalton rules out the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Ki-moon dismissed US and Israeli suggestions of attacking Iran, saying that “all these issues should be resolved peacefully through negotiations, through dialogue.” He said so after attending anniversary ceremonies of an agency to detect secret nuclear weapon tests, called the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation. Hague has also urged Israel not to strike. He said, “All options must remain on the table but a military attack would have enormous downsides.” He insisted on giving sanctions to Iran instead.

However, some US officials extrapolated that Iran is determined about the nuclear programme as the nation threatened to disrupt oil supply to six European nations earlier this week. A number of US officials now believe that attacking Iran is the only way out.

Dalton stated, “There are many signs, as reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that some research and development relevant to the development of nuclear weapons may still be going on. But it is wrong to say that Iran is rushing towards having a nuclear weapon.”

Iran organised a ceremony which revealed its nuclear programme on Wednesday. It stated that the programme is only about generating nuclear power. Iran also loaded its first domestically created fuel into the reactor last week.



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March 18, 2011

Conflicting reports, mounting fear, over Japanese nuclear disaster

Conflicting reports, mounting fear, over Japanese nuclear disaster

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan
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Cquote1.svg The odds are pretty good that no one has good information. Cquote2.svg

—Peter Bradford, former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner

U.S Nuclear Regulatory Secretary Steven Chu reported to Congress Wednesday that the incidents at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may end up as a larger disaster than the Three Mile Island meltdown faced by the U.S. in 1979. However, he said reports from Japan officials are contradictory, and concluded that “[w]e don’t really know in detail what’s happening. We hear conflicting reports.”

International frustration is focusing on the slow pace and lack of detail characterizing the updates from Japan. The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, said Japan needs to provide more frequent and detailed information on the crisis to the world.

File photo of Fukushima I.

Currently, the lack of information is particularly important regarding the threat posed by reactor number four. The building housing the reactor is no longer on fire, but smoke or steam is visible on television pictures. Yoshitaka Nagayama, a spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, admitted that “[b]ecause we have been unable to go the scene, we cannot confirm whether there is water left or not in the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4.”

Thomas Neff, a reactor safety expert with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “The problem is that nobody knows. If you don’t know and you’re TEPCO, you probably underplay it. If you’re the regulator, you probably see it in a worse light.”

“The odds are pretty good that no one has good information,” said a former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner, Peter Bradford, who was on the commission at the time of the Three Mile Island disaster.



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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Fukushima I nuclear accidents

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Power line to Japanese nuclear plant completed

Power line to Japanese nuclear plant completed

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Correction — March 21, 2011
 
As of 2:55 JST March 18, IAEA has issued a clarification indicating that the power line has not been completed and is on hold pending completion of water spraying at the plant.
 

Friday, March 18, 2011

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A power line to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan was completed Thursday, which will allow cooling systems at one of the facility’s reactors.

The new line, roughly one kilometer (0.6 miles) in length, connects the power grid to the power plant’s second reactor. It was completed at about 1730 local time (0830 UTC) on Thursday, and will be energized once spraying of seawater over reactor three is complete.

According to a Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesperson, once the power line is energized “we will be able to activate various electric pumps and pour water into reactors and pools for spent nuclear fuel,” thus cooling temperatures within the reactor.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that the stricken power plant is currently stable, though there is still the chance of matters growing worse. An official at the agency said that “it’s reasonably stable at the moment compared to yesterday.”


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June 11, 2010

UN Security Council imposes more sanctions against Iran

UN Security Council imposes more sanctions against Iran

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Friday, June 11, 2010

UN Security Council Chamber in New York

The United Nations Security Council has passed Resolution 1929 imposing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its alleged nuclear program.

The Security Council voted 13 to 2 to impose new sanctions on Iran unless it reveals more details of its nuclear programme. Brazil and Turkey voted against the resolution, while Lebanon abstained.

The sanctions do not include major blockades, but do include measures against Iranian banks abroad, a cargo inspection regime, and provisions that all countries shall prevent the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles, or missile systems.

President Obama praised the Security Council vote and said, “This resolution will put in place the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government, and it sends an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons”.

Brazil and Turkey criticised the sanctions, saying they could undermine further diplomatic efforts. They had previously offered to mediate the dispute, an offer which was accepted by Iran. Iran recently reached a deal with them to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for low-level nuclear fuel to run a medical reactor.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: “Sadly, this time it was Iran who wanted to negotiate, and those who didn’t want to negotiate were those who think that force resolves everything. I think that taking this decision was a mistake. I think the Security Council threw out a historic opportunity to negotiate calmly on Iran’s nuclear program and also to discuss in a deeper way the deactivation in countries with nuclear bombs.”

Iran responded to the UN vote by threatening to reduce its ties to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to continue its uranium enrichment program. Iran’s ambassador to the the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said “No matter how many resolutions are passed, Islamic Republic of Iran will not stop its enrichment activities, which is in full accordance with its right under the statute of IAEA and Non-Proliferation Treaty“.



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May 4, 2010

US criticizes Iran for remarks at nuclear conference

US criticizes Iran for remarks at nuclear conference

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the world, shortly after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused countries with nuclear capabilities of threatening those who were developing civilian nuclear technology.

The remarks by both came at a conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York. Ahmadinejad had criticized western nations, as well as Israel, in his speech, which prompted delegations from the US, France, and the United Kingdom to walk out. American officials said that Ahmadinejad’s remarks were indicative of Iran’s increased isolation by the international community.

Ahmadinejad had also been critical of nations with nuclear weapons for failing to disarm, saying that “production, stockpiling and qualitative improvement of nuclear armaments… now serves as a justification for the others to develop their own” and nuclear weapons were “a fire against humanity, rather than a weapon of defence. The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride. Its possession is disgusting and shameful.”

US White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that it was “predictable” that Iran was continuing its silence on the treaty itself, which would see all signatories relinquish any access to nuclear weapons, through either disarmament or a pledge not to develop nuclear weapons. He also said that Iran was making “wild accusations” about the treaty, the guidelines of which which it has so far failed to follow. Iran continues to claim its nuclear program is for civilian purposes exclusively.

Clinton said in her speech that “Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention away from its own record in an attempt to evade accountability” and that “[Iran] has defied the UN Security Council and the IAEA and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy, and that is why it is facing increasing isolation and pressure from the international community.”



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November 30, 2009

Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Iran announced earlier today that it plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants. Iranian media reported that the Cabinet approved the construction of the plants just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) censured Iran for its nuclear activities.

The proposed facilities, reported to be similar to Iran’s main nuclear plant at Natanz, would vastly increase the nation’s capacity to produce enriched uranium. Iranian media quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran should get to the point where it can produce 250 to 300 tons of nuclear fuel each year.

“We should reach a position where we can produce from 250–300 tonnes of nuclear fuel a year. To do this we must employ new centrifuges with a higher speed,” he commented.

Ahmadinejad said the new Iranian-designed centrifuges used to enrich uranium will have higher speeds than those currently being used. He added that Iran “is not joking around with anyone” when it comes to defending its nuclear rights.

The announcement seems to make good on a warning earlier in the day that pressure on Iran would force it to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said western pressure may force parliament to review the country’s stance toward the UN nuclear agency.

Iranian Members of Parliament said that “we consider the behaviour of the IAEA to be that of double standards and political. We want it to give up this double standard which has tarnished its reputation.”

The five-plus-one group of nations working on the Iran nuclear issue — the US, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — all voted Friday for the IAEA censure of Iran for defying international demands to freeze uranium enrichment and for secretly building a nuclear facility. The move appeared to take many officials in Tehran by surprise.

The tensions coincide with problems over an IAEA proposal to send Iran’s uranium abroad for enrichment, part of a plan to ease some concerns that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying that the programme is for civilian purposes only. The country has offered counter-proposals to the deal, but the IAEA has not accepted any of them.

An unnamed US official said that “if [the plant construction is] carried out, [it] would constitute yet another violation of Iran’s continuing obligation of suspension of all enrichment-related activities. There remains a fleeting opportunity for Iran to engage with the international community, if only it would make that choice.”



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November 27, 2009

UN nuclear chief says negotiations with Iran at \’dead end\’

UN nuclear chief says negotiations with Iran at ‘dead end’

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Friday, November 27, 2009

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, said earlier on Thursday that the organization has reached a “dead end” in a probe into Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA’s board is meeting to consider a resolution condemning Iran’s nuclear program.

File:Elbaradei.png

File photo of ElBaradei
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

In remarks to the IAEA’s board, ElBaradei expressed frustration over Iran’s failure to cooperate with the Vienna-based agency. ElBaradei leaves office in a few days, at the end of this November, and his remarks have grown sharply more critical of Iran in recent months.

Today, he said he was disappointed that Iran had not agreed on a deal to further enrich its uranium overseas. The deal has the support of the United States, Russia and France and it aims to provide a safeguard that Iran’s uranium is not being used to make a nuclear weapon.

“It is now well over a year since the agency was last able to engage Iran in discussions about these outstanding issues. We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us,” he commented.

“In my view the proposed agreement presents a unique opportunity after many years of animosity and hostility to address a humanitarian need and create a space for negotiation. This opportunity should be seized and it would be highly regrettable if it was missed,” he said.

ElBaradei’s comments come as the IAEA board is considering a draft resolution on Iran. According to press reports, the draft urges Iran to stop construction of the uranium enrichment site, and to confirm that it has no other hidden nuclear activities. Diplomats are reportedly confident the measure will be passed, but Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA told a German newspaper that Tehran would reduce its cooperation with the IAEA to a minimum if that happens.

Some members of the international community believe that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon; Tehran, however, maintains that its efforts are for peaceful purposes only.



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