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#Iran Nuclear

# iran-nuclear - Thursday 5 January, 2012

EU gears up for Iranian oil ban over nuclear dispute Oil

EU gears up for Iranian oil ban over nuclear dispute

The move will build pressure on Iran, which is already facing a currency crisis and a tense naval standoff with the US.

# iran-nuclear - Monday 23 May, 2011

EU tightens sanctions on Iran over nuclear programme

The EU is to impose asset freezes and travel bans on additional Iranian officials and companies over the country’s nuclear programme – meanwhile, Iran has announced it is to impose sanctions on the US over its “human rights violations”.

# iran-nuclear - Tuesday 26 October, 2010

Iran begins loading fuel into nuclear reactor core

The electricity-generating Bushehr Plant begins key phase in setting up its operations.

# iran-nuclear - Saturday 21 August, 2010

RUSSIA HAS begun to load fuel into Iran’s first nuclear reactor.

Despite Iran being the world’s second-largest exporter of crude oil and has the second-largest reserves of natural gas, it says it needs a nuclear reactor to guarantee an alternative energy source for its fossil fuel reserves run out.

Tehran has said that the project has commenced under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that the depositing of  uranium-packed fuel rods into the reactor will take about two weeks to complete.

Iran’s atomic energy agency released a statement, which read:

The operation of transferring nuclear fuel to the reactor was carried out in [the] presence of Ali Akbar Salehi, vice-president and head of Iran’s atomic body, and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s atomic body, Rosatom

The Bushehr Plant

The start-up of the Bushehr plant, which has so far cost $1bn, has been delayed by nearly 40 years. The site of the plant was previously used by the Germany company Siemens, who had operation there in the 1970s. Russia agreed to help Iran to built a plant there in 1995.

International Reaction

Although the US has said that it does not consider Bushehr as a proliferation risk, it has criticised the Russian decision to assist Iran at a time when tensions regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are running high in the international community. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon, but fears are growing.

Sanctions have been placed on Iran by the the US, UN, and EU over the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Russia has defended itself by pointing out that an agreement has been reached whereby Iran would return used fuel rods to Russia. Weapons-grade plutonium can be derived from spent fuel rods.

“Not a proliferation threat”

Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert in non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said that the Bushehr plant would not be a proliferation threat “as long as it is run to produce power for electricity generation”. She added:

It would be a risk if Iran operated it differently, for short periods at low-burn up in order to produce weapons-usable plutonium – but in this case the IAEA would know.

# iran-nuclear - Friday 13 August, 2010

RUSSIA HAS ANNOUNCED it will help Iran to get its first nuclear power station up and running by loading low-enriched uranium into the plant next week.

The process of loading the material will begin on 21 August, and should take two to three weeks.

A spokesman for the Russian atomic agency, Rosatom, said today:

The fuel will be charged in the reactor on August 21. From this moment, Bushehr will be considered a nuclear installation. This will be an irreversible step.

Russia built the power station in Bushehr, Iran, on the site of a project begun by Siemens in the 1970s. Under the agreement with Iran, spent fuel rods (which could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium) must be returned to Russia.

The news is bound to disappoint America, which has been pushing to prevent the development of Iran’s nuclear programme. Two prominent Iranian dissidents have disagreed with international sanctions against Iran, suggesting that they have helped President Ahmadinejad’s regime to grow stronger.

The dissidents, one of whom was the losing candidate in last year’s presidential elections, say that the sanctions are only affecting the most vulnerable members of Iranian society.

The first nuclear reaction at the Bushehr power plant is expected to take place in early October. Iran says that inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency will be invited.

[caption id="attachment_11460" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="AP Photo/ISNA,Mehdi Ghasemi"][/caption]

# iran-nuclear - Tuesday 10 August, 2010

FOLLOWING A STATEMENT from a United States Admiral regarding an alleged US contingency plan to invade Iran, Tehran has responded by digging mass graves for American soldiers.

US Admiral Mike Mullen said last week that the American military has a plan to attack Iran if necessary – however, he did stress that this was not a desirable option.

Iranian General Hossein Kan’ani Moghadam, said graves have been dug in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, near where the state buried Iraqi soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980’s.

“The mass graves that used to be for burying Saddam’s soldiers have now been prepared again for US soldiers,” Moghadam told the Associated Press,”This is the reason for digging this big number of graves.”

The friction between Iran and western powers has been intensifying lately, following a forth round of sanctions applied to Tehran by the United Nations over the country’s nuclear programme.

The US has claimed that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists that it is enriching uranium for energy and medicinal purposes.

See footage from Iran’s semi-state news agency, Fars, of the graves:

# iran-nuclear - Friday 6 August, 2010

DAVID CAMERON made his latest diplomatic gaffe as he addressed a group of residents in the English town of Hove on Thursday.

Speaking on the topic of Turkish accession to the European Union, Cameron seemed to bluntly accuse Iran of possessing a nuclear weapon.

When outlining the benefits of Turkish EU accession, Cameron said Turkey would have “a very good political influence” on the UK and could help to “solve some of the world’s problems like the Middle East peace process and the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon.”

The blunder is the latest in a series of ill-received statements made by Cameron – leading some to say that, as the UK’s youngest Prime Minister in two centuries, he is beginning to show signs of his inexperience.

First, The British Prime Minister called his country the “junior partner” to the the USA, which ruffled a few domestic feathers. Then, speaking in Turkey a few days later he referred to Gaza a “a prison camp” – the timing and location for such a statement was condemned by those who felt it was exacerbating diplomatic strain between Turkey and Israel in the wake of the Mavi Marmara deaths.

Last week, Cameron caused a stir in Pakistan, when he seemed to imply that the country bred terrorism. He warned the Pakistan not to “tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror”.

The latest gaffe about Iran, a country at the centre of extremely sensitive diplomatic proceedings in relation to its nuclear programme, has been criticised as not only clumsy but as dangerous. It has led some commentators to question if Cameron is the new George W Bush of foreign policy blunders.

However, Cameron’s Downing Street Office said it was “perfectly clear” that the Prime Minister had been referencing to the pursuit of nuclear capabilities and that Cameron was simply speaking his mind.

# iran-nuclear - Tuesday 27 July, 2010

IRAN HAS SAID that it is willing to return to negotiations with western powers about the exchange of nuclear fuel, despite the European Union imposing harsh new sanctions on the country on Monday.

Iran denies that the sanctions will hurt, but has stated that it plans to return to talks in the Autumn.

EU countries agreed to self-impose investment restrictions in Iranian oil and gas in response to Iran’s nuclear programme. Sanctions will also include a suspension on EU dealings with Iranian banks and insurance companies.

These are the latest extension on sanctions against Iran, against following similar UN, EU and US actions earlier in the year.

Despite Tehran insisting that the country is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes (medicinal and energy uses), suspicions that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon have brought a slew of economic sanctions.

Last June, Turkey and Brazil agreed a fuel swap with Iran in an attempt to reduce escalating international tension surrounding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Under the terms of the agreement 1200 kg of Iran’s 3.5% enriched uranium would be sent to Turkey in exchange for 120 kg of 20% enriched fuel.

Nevertheless, the following day the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia all agreed to impose economic sanctions on Iran.

The nature of the sanctions are designed to hit Iran hard. Despite the country being the fifth largest crude oil exporter in the world, it has a extremely limited capacity to refine petroleum and so relies on foreign imports for about 40% of its domestic consumption.

Refined oil, such as gasoline, is essential for personal and commercial transport and business.  The country has been relying on friendlier nations like Turkey and China for gasoline imports.

Mark Fitzpatrick, an Iran specialist at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Reuters that the EU did not fear other countries rushing in to provide commercial imports for Iran as the areas chosen for the sanctions are ones in which Europe has “substantial leverage.”

She continued by adding: “Not so many other countries can provide the kind of financial services that will be cut off. Few other countries supply technology for liquefied natural gas, nobody else does re-insurance … The European Union has very wisely found areas over which it has real leverage and cannot be supplanted.”

However, some countries object to the new round of sanctions, including Russia. Iranian IRNA news quotes Maxim Shevchenko, president of the Center for Strategic Research on Modern Religion and Politics, as saying that “any pressure on the country to stop its program will be unjust, unacceptable and discriminatory,” and that “Iran maintains cordial relations with several powerful countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Japan… (which  would) foil the effects of sanctions on Iran.”

# iran-nuclear - Thursday 15 July, 2010

AN IRANIAN scientist who claims he was abducted by the US, said he was interrogated by US agents for 14 months about Iran’s nuclear programme. Shahram Amiri, 32, arrived back in Tehran today and was met at the airport by relatives and friends.

In a press conference after his arrival, he said he was controlled by armed CIA agents and threatened repeatedly. The US has denied all of the allegations. Iran denies that Shahram Amiri is a nuclear scientist.

His wife said she didn’t know whether he was dead or alive until Iranian state TV broadcast video messages from Mr Amiri, alleging he had been taken by US agents during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. On the same day, a contradictory message attributed to him said he was in the US to continue his education: