Posts tagged iran
The coming nuclear showdown
(Reuters) - Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.
In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 180 so-called IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings had been put in place at the facility near the central town of Natanz. They were not yet operating.
If launched successfully, such machines could enable Iran to speed up significantly its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to devise a nuclear weapon. Iran says it is refining uranium only for peaceful energy purposes.
Iran’s installation of new-generation centrifuges would be “yet another provocative step,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.
White House spokesman Jay Carney warned Iran that it would face further pressure and isolation if it fails to address international concerns about its nuclear program in the February 26 talks with world powers in the Kazakh city of Almaty.
Britain’s Foreign Office said the IAEA’s finding was of “serious concern”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the report “proves that Iran continues to advance swiftly towards the red line” that he laid down last year.
Netanyahu, who has strongly hinted at possible military action if sanctions and diplomacy fail to halt Iran’s nuclear drive, told the U.N. in September that Iran should not have enough higher-enriched uranium to make even a single warhead.
Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop a capability to make atomic bombs. Tehran says it is Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal that threatens peace.
The IAEA’s report showed “no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes,” Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Iranian media.
U.S. lawmakers meanwhile are crafting a bill designed to stop the European Central Bank from handling business from the Iranian government, a U.S. congressional aide said on Thursday, in an attempt to keep Tehran from using euros to develop its nuclear program.
In the early stages of drafting, it would target the ECB’s cross-border payment system and impose U.S. economic penalties on entities that use the European Central Bank to do business with Iran’s government, the aide said on condition of anonymity.
The aide disclosed the new push for sanctions ahead of fresh talks on Tuesday in which major powers hope to persuade the Iranian government to rein in its atomic activities, which the West suspects may be a cover to develop a bomb capability.
RISING WESTERN PRESSURE
It was not clear how many of the new centrifuges Iran aims to install at Natanz, which is designed for tens of thousands. An IAEA note informing member states late last month about Iran’s plans implied that it could be up to 3,000 or so.
Iran has for years been trying to develop centrifuges more efficient than the erratic 1970s IR-1 model it now uses, but their introduction for full-scale production has been dogged by delays and technical hurdles, experts and diplomats say.
The deployment of the new centrifuges underlines Iran’s continued refusal to bow to Western pressure to curb its nuclear program, and may further complicate efforts to resolve the dispute diplomatically, without a spiral into Middle East war.
Iran has also started testing two new centrifuge types, the IR-6 and IR-6s, at a research and development facility, the IAEA report said. Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope in uranium.
In a more encouraging sign for the powers, however, the IAEA report said Iran in December resumed converting some of its uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent to oxide powder for the production of reactor fuel.
That helped restrain the growth of Iran’s higher-grade uranium stockpile since the previous report in November, a development that could buy more time for diplomacy.
The report said Iran had increased to 167 kg (367 pounds) its stockpile of 20 percent uranium – a level it says it needs to make fuel for a Tehran research reactor but which also takes it much closer to weapons-grade material if processed further.
NEW OFFER TO IRAN
One diplomat familiar with the report said this represented a rise of about 18-19 kg since November, a notable slowdown from the previous three-month period when the stockpile jumped by nearly 50 percent after Iran halted conversion.
Israel last year gave a rough deadline of mid-2013 as the date by which Tehran could have enough higher-grade uranium to produce a single atomic bomb if processed further. Experts say about 240-250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium would be needed.
But a resumption of conversion, experts say, means the Israeli “red line” for action could be postponed. Refined uranium can fuel nuclear energy plants, which is Iran’s stated aim, or provide the core of an atomic bomb, which the United States and Israel suspect may be its ultimate goal.
Next week’s talks between the six powers and Iran to try again to break the impasse in the decade-old dispute are their first since mid-2012 but analysts expect no real progress toward defusing suspicions that Iran is seeking atomic bomb capability.
The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany want Iran to halt 20 percent enrichment and shut the Fordow underground plant where this takes place. Iran wants them to recognize what it regards as its right to refine uranium for peaceful purpose and to relax increasingly strict sanctions battering its oil-dependent economy.
In Paris, French deputy foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said the powers were ready to make a new offer to Iran with “significant new elements” and that they hoped Tehran would engage seriously in the negotiations. source – Reuters
Iran is nuclear because Obama has allowed them to get there
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that while Iran is already a nuclear state, it has no intention of attacking Israel. Ahmadinejad was interviewed on the eve of his visit to Cairo, where he will attend the 12th Islamic Summit Conference, due to open there on Wednesday.
Before his trip, he gave a long interview to the editor-in-chief of Egypt‘s newspaper Al-Ahram. Although Al-Ahram ran the entire interview only in its print edition, excerpts appeared on Egyptian websites.
Ahmadinejad said the world must now treat Iran as a nuclear country. “They want Iran to go back to what it was in the past, but they won’t succeed. They assume we’ll give in to pressure; such thoughts are misguided. We’re already an industrial and nuclear country, a country that has conquered space. For years we have been thinking about sending a human being into space, and we will do that, with Allah’s help. We must ensure development and growth and bring them to pass, and the world must acknowledge our progress,” he said, adding that the best solution was cooperation with Iran.
Mentioning the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, Ahmadinejad said that while it might be easy to launch missiles or attack using fighter jets, Iran’s response and defense capability were important in this context.
He reiterated that the Zionists were trying to take over the foci of power and wealth throughout the world. “They want to attack Iran, but we’re not preparing any attack against them because the purpose of our program is defense.”
During the interview, Ahmadinejad condemned what he described as massacres committed by Israel. “For us, supporting the Palestinian people is a matter of human importance in every sense. The Palestinians must receive their rights, and the Zionists are moving closer and closer toward the edge.”
He added that his country was opposed to any outside military intervention in Syria, saying that the solution to the crisis there was dialogue between all the Syrian groups. source – Haaretz
In wake of reported IAF attack on a military research center in Syria, Syrian ambassador to Lebanon says Damascus has option to respond as Iran threatens “serious consequences” for Tel Aviv; Hezbollah, Russia condemn strike.
BEIRUT – Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon said on Thursday that Damascus had the option of a “surprise decision” to respond to what it said was an Israeli air strike on a research center on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on Wednesday.
Syria could take “a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes,” Ali Abdul Karim Ali was quoted as telling a Hezbollah-run news website.
In the wake of reported Israeli air strike on a Syrian weapons center, Iran also issued a threat to Israel on Thursday.
The Iranian regime’s English language mouthpiece, Press TV, quoted a deputy foreign minister as saying that the “strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv.” The official did not elaborate. source – JPost
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:18,19
An American-Iranian pastor imprisoned in Tehran since September may face hanging because of his Christian faith. Saeed Abedini sent a letter to his family Jan. 10 detailing his torture and treatment by Iranian authorities.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The U.S. State Department expressed “serious concerns” about Abedini’s situation on Friday.
Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote to the The Jerusalem Post on Friday, “This is an extremely critical time for American Pastor Saeed and his family. We now know with certainty, from his own words, the brutality and life-threatening danger he faces in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.”
“In a powerful letter from him released to family members in Tehran, Pastor Saeed reveals that he is undergoing beatings and is being told that he ‘will hang’ for his Christian faith. That treatment combined with the recent news that Pastor Saeed’s case has been turned over to one of Iran’s ‘hanging judges’ makes his circumstances more dire than ever,” Sekulow said.
Abedini became an American citizen in 2010 after marrying his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini, according to FOX News.
The Iranian government does not recognize his American citizenship, though it had enabled him to travel freely between both countries until this past summer.
That’s when he was pulled off a bus and placed under house arrest, according to his supporters. Abedini was then imprisoned and charged with several crimes that have not been made public, but it is widely believed that it is because of his Christian faith.
Jihadists and allies of the ruling mullahs target Christians living in Iran.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, an expert on Iran who has written extensively on the persecution of Christians in the Islamic Republic, told the Post on Saturday, that Abedini’s case was “an example of the insidious and perfidious policy of the Islamist dictatorship” in Tehran, adding that “the main goal of the rulers is to intimidate Christians and Iranians who are interested to leave Islam and change their religion.” […]
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and representatives of Islamic Jihad even play the role of pastors in churches in Isfahan to “guide” the Christians and teach them that Islam is better,” Wahdat-Hagh stated. source – Free Beacon
Iran sends hundreds of Fajr-5 Missiles To Gaza
An Iranian 150-ton freighter departed Bandar Abbas port Sunday, Nov. 18, with a cargo of 220 short-range missiles and 50 improved long-range Fajr-5 rockets for the Gaza Strip, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. The ship turned toward the Bab al-Mandeb Straits and the Red Sea.
The new Fajr-5′s have a 200-kilo warhead, which packs a bigger punch than the 175 kilos of explosives delivered by the rockets in current use with the Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. To extend their range to cover the 85 kilometers from Gaza to Tel Aviv, Hamas removed a part of their payloads to make them lighter.
Tehran is sending the fresh supply of disassembled rockets to replenish the stocks its allies, the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami, depleted in their round-the-clock attacks on Israel since Nov. 10.
To throw Israeli surveillance off the trail, the ship started its voyage called Vali-e Asr owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and was quickly renamed Cargo Star and hoisted the flag of Tuvalu. This South Pacific island nation, which lies between Hawaii and Australia, has a tiny population of 11,000, most of them Polynesians. Iran provides most of its revenue since earlier this year when Prime Minister Willy Telavi agreed to register Iran’s entire tanker fleet of 22 vessels to Tuvalu, to help Tehran dodge the US-EU oil embargo.
Our intelligence sources have learned that four big Sudanese shipping boats sailed out of Port Sudan early Monday and are waiting to rendezvous with the Cargo Star and offload its missile cargo in mid-sea.
The Sudanese will then be told by Tehran whether put into Port Sudan with the missiles, or turn north and sail up the Red Sea to the Straits of Tiran to link up with Egyptian fishing boats which regularly ply this waterway in the service of Palestinian-Iranian smuggling networks. They would unload the missile cargo in a quiet inlet on the Sinai coast. From there, it would be carried to the smuggling tunnels running from Sinai under the border into the Gaza Strip.\
Palestinian teams assisted by Iranian and Hizballah technicians in the Gaza Strip would then assemble the new rockets and make them operational.
Through most of the voyage, two Iranian warships, the Khark heliicopter carrier and Shahid Naqdi destroyer, which are posted permanently in the Red Sea, escorted the arms ship until the cargo changed hands.
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources also disclose that the Jihad Islami leader Ramadan Abdullah Shelah was sharply remanded by Tehran for meeting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo Sunday to discuss terms for halting Israel’s counter-missile operation in Gaza now in its sixth day.
Iran bankrolls these Palestinian extremists and has no intention of letting Shelah bow to Cairo’s wishes which run counter to Tehran’s plans and interests.
While Egypt’s new Islamist leaders are intent on carving out for themselves a responsible role in the region by restoring order, solving crises and restraining radicals, radical Iran has its own fish to fry and is bent on escalating war tensions in the Middle East. source – DEBKA
Israel starts Operation Pillar Of Defense
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Exodus 13:21,22
The IAF struck and killed Hamas’s head of military operations Ahmed Jabari in central Gaza on Wednesday. The strike marked the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense to target Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations in Gaza, IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai announced.
Hamas has announced a general call-up and threatened to respond not just with rockets but suicide attacks. Israeli sources say the air operation called Pillar of Cloud is underway against more Hamas leaders and its military infrastructure and rocket stocks across the Gaza Strip until peace is restored to southern Israel. – DEBKA
“The first aim of this operation is to bring back quiet to southern Israel, and the second target is to strike at terror organizations,” Mordechai said. “The homefront must brace itself resiliently,” he added, describing Jabari as a man with “a lot of blood on his hands.”
The IDF says Jabari carried out and ordered numerous terror attacks against Israel, including the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and the firing of hundreds of rockets in recent years.
Mordechai added that Gaza is a “forward Iranian base,” adding that the latest campaign of air strikes targeted most of the long-range offensive capabilities in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
He added that columns of smoke were visible around Gaza.
Shortly after Mordechai’s annoucement, the IAF struck over 20 underground rocket launchers belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The airstrikes targeted long-range rockets in the possession of terror organizations, such as the Fajr-5 and other rockets that are capable of striking Tel Aviv from Gaza. Palestinian sources said that six Gazans were killed in the IDF strikes.
The IDF believes it has eliminated the majority of the long-range threat.
The majority of the Gaza weapons storage sites were located in civilian residential buildings, the IDF confirmed. “This is further evidence of the pattern of Hamas to use the population in Gaza as human shields,” the IDF stressed.
The IDF has urged civilians to pay attention to instructions from the Home Front Command in light of the developments.
In response to the attacks, Hamas said that “the occupation has opened the gates of hell.”
Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said the assassination will not “break the will of our people, nor weaken our resistance,”Al Ahram reported. Al-Rishq made the comments on his Facebook site, adding that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is using the “war crime” to boost his chances of reelection, but that it could “cost him his political future.”
Wednesday’s violence came after a four-day rocket barragewhich began Saturday appeared to have come to an end on Tuesday evening. The hostilities saw over 100 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel and Israeli retaliatory strikes which killed six Palestinians.
Both Israel and Hamas sent signals to each other via Egypt that they would hold their fire unless attacked, after five days of mounting violence. source – JPost
This “incident” was purposely and willfully kept from the America people for a full week before the election and was not made public for a full 24 hours after the election. Obama can do nothing except by deceit, lies and cover-ups. And in typical Obama fashion, he refused to take action against his fellow Muslims. Just like at Fort Hood…just like in Benghazi…just like in Tunisia….
From Yahoo News: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iranian warplanes fired at an unarmed U.S. drone in international airspace last week but did not hit the aircraft, the Pentagon said on Thursday, disclosing details of an unprecedented incident that triggered a formal warning to Tehran through diplomatic channels.
The November 1 intercept was the first time Tehran had fired at an unmanned American aircraft, in a stark reminder of how tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate quickly into violence.
If Iran had hit the drone, as the Pentagon believes it was trying to do, it could have forced American retaliation – with the potential consequences that entails.
According to the timeline provided by the Pentagon, two Iranian SU-25 “Frogfoot” aircraft intercepted the American drone at about 4:50 a.m. EST (0850 GMT) as it conducted a routine, but classified, surveillance mission over Gulf waters about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said the aircraft fired multiple rounds at the Predator drone and followed it for at least several miles as it moved farther away from Iranian airspace.
“We believe that they fired at least twice and made at least two passes,” he said.
International airspace begins after 12 nautical miles and Little said the drone at no point entered Iranian airspace. Last year, a crashed CIA drone was recovered inside Iran.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quickly notified of the incident, as were members of Congress and the White House, Little added. The United States also sent Iran a warning through diplomatic channels, saying it would defend its military assets and would keep sending aircraft on such surveillance operations.
“There is absolutely no precedence for this,” Little said. “This is the first time that a (drone) has been fired upon to our knowledge by Iranian aircraft.”
Many questions about the incident remain, including why Iranian warplanes could not manage – if they wanted – to shoot down an unarmed drone, which lacks advanced capabilities to outmaneuver them.
Asked whether the Iranian aircraft were simply firing warning shots, Little said: “Our working assumption is that they fired to take it down. You’ll have to ask the Iranians why they engaged in this action.” There was no immediate comment by Iranian officials.
President Barack Obama has resisted calls from inside the United States and Israel for military action against Iran, focusing instead on crushing rounds of sanctions, which were tightened again on Thursday.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s communications minister and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for jamming international satellite broadcasts to Iran and censoring and closing newspapers and detaining journalists.
The sanctions are part of broader efforts to isolate Tehran, which denies U.S. accusations that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. In an effort to drive Iran to compromise, the United States and the European Union have gone for the jugular – Iran’s oil exports – over the past year.
The United States and Israel, which regards a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence, have also hinted at the possibility of military strikes on Iran as a last resort.
Obama has said the United States will “do what we must” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and has repeatedly said that all options are on the table – code for the possibility of using force. source – Yahoo News