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The West lacks political maturity: Mottaki

Posted by alanmirs on August 31, 2010

The West lacks political maturity: Mottaki

The West lacks political maturity: Mottaki

In a SPIEGEL interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, 57, discusses the consequences of Western sanctions against Iran and the risk of a military strike against his country.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister, you are the senior diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You represent a nation that prides itself on a cultural history stretching back more than 2,500 years. Don’t you find it shameful that people are stoned to death in your country?

Manouchehr Mottaki: You come from a country that murdered millions of people during a tyrannical war, and you want to talk to me about human rights? OK, we can certainly discuss the laws in various countries and naturally we can, in a friendly atmosphere, debate the different legal principles.

SPIEGEL: It isn’t a matter of legal subtleties. Stoning is a glaring violation of universal human rights. It’s barbaric.

Mottaki: There is a certain framework for punishments in Islam. In Iran, we treat crimes that are punished with the death penalty with special sensitivity, because Islam assigns special value to human life. The Koran reads: ""Anyone who murders any person (…), it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people.""

SPIEGEL: We are not talking about murder, for which the death penalty by hanging is imposed in Iran, but about the stoning of adulterers. International human rights organizations report that there have been seven cases in the last five years alone.

Mottaki: I cannot confirm your number. But it shows that this sentence is in fact carried out very rarely.

SPIEGEL: The names of 14 other potential stoning victims are also known. This places Iran on the same level as countries like Somalia and Afghanistan when it was under Taliban rule.

Mottaki: Certain groups are making these accusations, and the West must be careful not to allow itself to be misled by people who seek to harm our reputation. Many of the things that were reported on the most recent case…

SPIEGEL: …the impending stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani …

Mottaki: … are either completely incorrect or contradictory. This file has existed for several years, and nothing was done about the case, deliberately so. The campaign is now backed by people who, with the help of a few European politicians and the media, are playing a rigged game. We will soon announce further information about what is behind this game. And when you speak of Afghanistan, why don’t you mention the victims of the foreign troops? Countless people have died as a result of their military campaigns. But you challenge me on this one case and then compare us to Afghanistan.

SPIEGEL: Will you lobby for Ashtiani not to be stoned?

Mottaki: I am not a judge. Besides, this case requires further legal review. A final decision has not yet been made.

SPIEGEL: This case is only one example of Iran’s contempt for human rights. Iran, which executed 400 people last year, is second from the top of the list of countries that still impose the death penalty — behind China, with a population 20 times as large.

Mottaki: You have to understand our situation. Iran is in a region in which a lot of money is made in the drug trade. Most crimes are related to the trade. We have to take a firm stance against these crimes. Some 4,000 police officers and soldiers have died fighting dealers in our country. We sentence criminals on the basis of our laws. Criminals are treated fairly. Don’t forget that we are the first line of defense against drugs. Iran also protects the young people and the population of your country. Germany is a target of the drug trade.

SPIEGEL: But it isn’t just criminals who are executed. Death sentences are also passed against political prisoners.

Mottaki: No one is executed in Iran for political reasons. You have no evidence to prove the opposite.

SPIEGEL: The large wave of arrests after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June shows that your legal system is political. Thousands have been arrested since then. The revolutionary courts have imposed long prison sentences on people whose only offence was to oppose the president.

Mottaki: This election was a triumph. We had the highest turnout for a presidential election since the 1979 revolution. Of 40 million voters, a turnout of 85 percent, 25 million voted for Mr. Ahmadinejad. But as was already the case during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005, the West apparently expected a different election result. We think the Western countries lack political maturity.

SPIEGEL: For the West, but also for millions of people in Iran, the most recent election was a huge fraud.

Mottaki: Manipulation is an issue in elections everywhere. Just think of the differences of opinion that elections have triggered in the United States, where a court had to step in to end a dispute over the validity of ballots. The accusations were also investigated in our country, at the urging of the opposition and our leadership. The votes were recounted. Since then, the result has been legally binding.

‘We Don’t Want More than What Is Our Right’

SPIEGEL: The victims of your legal system included highly respected people like Mohammad Ali Abtahi, vice president under the former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, Mohammed Atrianfar, an adviser to Khatami’s predecessor, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the well-known journalist Issa Saharkhiz, who was arrested after an interview with SPIEGEL.

Mottaki: The accused have acknowledged their mistakes.

SPIEGEL: But those were extorted confessions.

Mottaki: How can you claim that? The confessions were made in an open atmosphere, in the presence of media representatives. They were also repeated in front of other witnesses.

SPIEGEL: The charges included contact with the West. What’s wrong with that?

Mottaki: There is nothing inherently wrong with it. We have had contact with the West for 150 years, and we promote cooperation. But in these cases we are talking about concrete instructions that the accused were given. A number of Western news services deliberately used these people.

SPIEGEL: Isn’t the crackdown by the security apparatus a sign that the Ahmadinejad government is finished, and that the only way it knows to stay in power is to use repression?

Mottaki: This government has already been in office for a year and will remain in power for another three years, that is, for the full four years for which it was elected. But what is finished is the nefarious game that was intended to distort our election victory. The Iranian people are a cultivated and intelligent people. No one can manipulate them.

SPIEGEL: Ahmadinejad came into office five years ago promising to fight mismanagement and corruption. But the situation has only worsened under his leadership. The inflation rate is estimated to be at least 25 percent, and half of Iranians live at or below the poverty level.

Mottaki: This sort of propaganda is merely meant to show that the sanctions are working. Look at our economic growth, especially in the industrial sector. Note the reduction in the inflation rate, the upturn in the market and our growing trade relations with many countries, even with countries that voted for the resolutions. The sanctions have made us immune to the global economic crisis that has hit other countries, including those in Europe. We have become self-sufficient. Iran is exporting wheat for the first time. Despite the sanctions, we have launched a satellite into space. And we have now mastered uranium enrichment.

SPIEGEL: The United States and the EU, in particular, have implemented sanctions that go beyond the United Nations Security Council resolutions. They are now affecting the important oil industry and gasoline imports. Were you surprised by the Europeans’ tough approach?

Mottaki: Europe will undoubtedly suffer more under the new sanctions than we will. Europe will be the big loser in relation to this policy. We already reduced our trade relations with Europe considerably in recent years. We now produce some of the goods ourselves, and we have found new suppliers for the rest. We’re not concerned about our supply of gasoline and other energy sources.

SPIEGEL: Did Turkey and China step in?

Mottaki: You don’t actually expect me to tell you about the details of the agreements?

SPIEGEL: The German government was particularly adamant about setting a rigid course. Has this affected relations adversely?

Mottaki: If your government is not interested in expanding and deepening our relations, Iran doesn’t have to run after it. We think it’s beneath the dignity of the German people to support a certain US policy. My recommendation is for Germany (to pursue) an independent policy.

SPIEGEL: And the recommendation from Germany is that you show a willingness to compromise in the nuclear conflict.

Mottaki: I would like to direct a comment at your foreign minister, Mr. (Guido) Westerwelle, and his European counterparts: We don’t want more than what is our right. We have created this right without outside assistance. And I think the best thing now would be to recognize this right, within the framework of the appropriate provisions and regulations.

‘Anyone Who Attacks Iran Will Regret It’

SPIEGEL: It still isn’t quite clear what Tehran wants. The president recently announced that he intends to resume negotiations on Sept. 8, after the end of Ramadan. Shortly afterwards, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out talks with the United States. What next?

Mottaki: You have to keep these things carefully separated. We want to talk to the so-called Vienna Group about the exchange of fuel: We deliver low enriched uranium in return for 20 percent enriched fuel for our research reactor in Tehran. The negotiating partners are France, Russia, the United States, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. There are also proposals to include Turkey and Brazil in these talks.

SPIEGEL: Still, are you unwilling to show any accommodation in the real conflict over uranium enrichment?

Mottaki: We want to talk, but first the structure of the group, which consists of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, must be changed. Other countries must be added to the group. The talks can then be resumed with this new structure.

SPIEGEL: And your president also wants direct talks with the president of the United States independently of that?

Mottaki: Mr. Ahmadinejad has announced his willingness to engage in a public debate with Mr. Obama. This is quite different from official talks between the United States and Iran, which the leader of the revolution has spoken out against.

SPIEGEL: In other words, Iran is continuing to try to stall for time. You are aware that there is a substantial risk of a military strike against your nuclear plants?

Mottaki: You cannot disregard a country’s rights and force it to make compromises. We are determined to defend our right. Anyone who attacks Iran will regret it.

SPIEGEL: There are growing calls in Israel for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities — with or without Washington’s approval.

Mottaki: Israel has been talking about this for years. The Zionist regime knows exactly what fate awaits it here. The regime would be putting its own existence at stake with an attack.

SPIEGEL: You would attack Israel?

Mottaki: I have just told you what would happen.

SPIEGEL: Your first reactor, in Bushehr, is scheduled to go online on Sept. 26 after more than 30 years of construction. Do you really want to see the Israelis reduce it to rubble?

Mottaki: Do you have evidence that Bushehr will be attacked? How probable do you think such an attack is?

SPIEGEL: The likelihood is considered high.

Mottaki: We don’t see this likelihood.

SPIEGEL: Do you want to ignore reality? Don’t you recognize the military threat? Don’t you see the worldwide protest against the impending stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani?

Mottaki: What is the point of these questions? You would be better advised to listen to us. It was our interpretations of the situation in this region that have proved to be right. We predicted that the United States would capitulate in Iraq, and that’s what has happened. Instead, you are playing the human rights game. You ask me about the possible killing of a human being. But you show no sensitivity for the many, many people that are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. How long does the West intend to live with this contradiction?

SPIEGEL: In two conversations, we also asked you about your assessments of the region, and we found your responses to be noteworthy. But now the Ashtiani case has caused an international reaction. And the international community is extremely alarmed in light of Iran’s nuclear activities. It seems to be one minute before midnight.

Mottaki: No. On my watch it’s one o’clock, and precisely at that moment the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which was originally supposed to be built by the Germans, will be loaded with Russian fuel rods.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for this interview.


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Iran joins peaceful nuclear club

Posted by alanmirs on August 27, 2010

"International Affairs"

Iran joins peaceful nuclear club

Iran's nuclear power plant Bushehr
Iran’s nuclear power plant Bushehr
15:49 27/08/2010
© RIA Novosti. Andrei Reznichenko

This story by Vladimir Yurtaev, PhD (History), Member of the European Society of Experts on Iran Affairs, Strategic Culture Foundation expert, was published in International Affairs magazine.


On August 21, 2010, a long awaited launch of the first unit of Iran’s first nuclear power plant Bushehr was held. The first stage of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program has been completed and we can congratulate the Iranian people with such a significant achievement.

In early 1971 the Shah approved plans to turn Iran into the world’s fifth leading industrial power by 2000. In particular the plan envisaged the purchase and the launch of 20-25 nuclear reactors which would function using only imported uranium.

In 1974, Iran with the help of the US, Germany (then-Western Germany), France and Great Britain reached an agreement for the construction of two nuclear plants in Bushehr (Fars province), and two plants in Darhovin in the area of the city of Ahvaz (Khuzestan province). However it was only Germany’s Kraftwerk Union A.G. (Siemens/KWU) company, which started the construction of two units each with the capacity of 1,300 MW for the nuclear power plant in Bushehr. 

Considering that the Western countries including the US were against the production of nuclear fuel in Iran, it was agreed to grant France’s Nuclear Energy Agency a $1 billion loan for 15 years in exchange for 10% of the output by the uranium enrichment plant which was under construction in the valley of the Rhone River.

After the overthrowing of the Shah’s regime in 1979 all the contracts were cancelled and the construction of the nuclear plant in Bushehr was halted.  By that time the construction of the plant’s building had been completed and the equipment had been 80% installed.

In spring and summer of 1988, during the Iranian-Iraqi war the plant was seriously damaged by the bombings. In 1991-1992 Iranians restored the building and to removed the damaged equipment. However under the pressure of the US the Western countries refused to continue nuclear cooperation with Iran.

On August 25, 1992, a Russian-Iranian intergovernmental agreement on building a nuclear power plant in Iran was signed.  It took 18 years to achieve the first significant result.  This is not only a big victory of the Islamic republic of Iran but also a good lesson to learn for the Iranian government. The experience showed that the work on new technologies excludes any “whipping” of the technological process and should not depend on the current political situation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Bushehr plant head of Russian nuclear agency Rosatom Sergey Kirienko said that the Bushehr plant was a unique project because the engineers had managed to build the plant using the old ground work and even to keep some of its basic equipment installed by the German company more than 30 years ago. “Considering 36 years of expectations the launch of the plant in Bushehr is symbolic for the Iranian people”. Kirienko said.

Right after the ceremony on August 21, head of Russia’s Atomstoyexport Dan Belenky and head of Iran’s Nuclear Power Production and Development Mahmoud Ahmadyya signed a memorandum to establish a joint venture which will operate the Bushehr plant. Russia plans to take part in the joint venture on parity basis for not more than 2-3 years.

The prospects of further Russian-Iranian cooperation have not been defined yet. According to Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President of Iran and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, everything will depend on the decisions made by the president and the government (1).

The reaction of the leading nations was predictably low-key. Firstly, the launch of a nuclear plant is an ordinary thing for developed countries. Secondly, all important issues had been agreed in advance.

As for the US it sees no "proliferation risk" from the launch of Iran’s first nuclear power plant.  According to U.S. State Department spokesman Darby Holladay, “Russia’s support for Bushehr underscores that Iran does not need an indigenous enrichment capability if its intentions are purely peaceful".

However he added that this statement does not remove the global community’s concern with Iran’s nuclear plans, especially domestic uranium enrichment. Holladay stressed that the US and other permanent members of the UN Security Council (Great Britain, China, France and Russia) and also Germany (which is not a permanent member) approved the model under which nuclear fuel is supplied to Iran from Russia (2).

Following the launch of the first unit of the Bushehr plant Berlin urged Teheran to abandon plans to enrich uranium on its territory (3).

Israel’s Foreign Minister said that the launch of the Bushehr plant was absolutely unacceptable and urged the global community to make more pressure on Teheran to stop uranium enrichment process. According to Tel-Aviv’s statement, as a nuclear power Iran will pose threat to Israel’s existence (4).

According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the launch of the Bushehr plant shows that Iran could only profit from the international nuclear cooperation if it takes concrete steps to ground an exclusively peaceful character of its nuclear program (5).

Until the last moment the Western mass media continued speculations on possible military attack on Iran’s nuclear objects by the US and/or Israel. The launch of the Bushehr plant on Augsut 21 in fact put an end to this discussion. The threat of Chernobyl disaster’s repetition can chill even very hotheaded people. On August 17 Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that “attacking an international plant is an international crime as the consequences will not be limited to the hosting country but will have a global aftermath” (6). Now we can expect the US to start working on more complicated scenarios of its blitzkrieg in Asia.

May be this was the reason why at their meeting in Ankara  the shareholders of the Nabucco gas pipeline project decided not to build an additional branch to Iran. The decision was made even before the launch of the Bushehr plant. Initially the project envisaged gas supplies from Iran’s gas deposit in the Persian Gulf (7).  The Islamic republic of Iran remains “beyond the red line” for Washington. 

The Iranian government has no doubts about the future of the Islamic revolution but the situation is not that simple. The Islamic republic is still one step away from the US’ Desert Storm aimed at the liquidation of one of the leading Islamic states.

It is not a coincidence that the ceremony of the opening of the plant was held on August 21. On August 22, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally presented first Iranian drone Karar («Striker»).  “This jet heralds death for enemies and is the messenger of salvation and dignity for humanity”, Iran’s president said (8). Karar was the nickname of Imam Ali, the first Shiite imam who died as a mortar fighting for justice.

The same day together with its military readiness Iran demonstrated its determination to change the international situation by means of creating “an alternative world system”. On August 22, 2010, addressing the parliament and the government the Iranian president said that Iran had established special relations with at least 40 countries in banking and insurance sectors, import and export sectors. He urged for the government to take an advantage of the situation to create the new world order and to make Iran independent from the capitalistic world. The first move here will be full economic self sufficiency, he said (9).

 Iran joins peaceful nuclear club


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The Sunni factor in Iran’s nuclear calculus

Posted by alanmirs on August 25, 2010

Prakash Shah and Ramesh Thakur

The Sunni factor in Iran’s nuclear calculus

Tehran needs reassurance against Sunni hostility as much as against Israeli and Western threats of invasion and regime change 2010 IIPA

Tehran needs reassurance against Sunni hostility as much as against Israeli and Western threats of invasion and regime change

See also:

Prakash Shah and Ramesh Thakur

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

The United States, no more but no less than other states, tends to make self-centred assessments of other countries’ policies. This is one reason it missed the Iran factor as the most likely explanation for Saddam Hussein’s deliberate ambiguity about a “weapons of mass destruction” capability. Washington may be committing a similar error with respect to Iran’s nuclear motives. In projecting the threat from a potential nuclear Iran to Israel, the West keeps open the last resort possibility of a pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iran. Tehran’s security concerns and its quest for nuclear weapons may be aimed as much at meeting the Sunni threat as the Israeli threat.

Like most countries, Iran’s security policy is driven by multiple motives. Since Iraq was attacked and occupied after having disarmed, other states that fear a U.S. attack have a powerful incentive to acquire nuclear weapons to deter it. The history of Western intervention in Iranian affairs, coupled with the continuing bellicose rhetoric directed at the Iranian regime and large numbers of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, mean that Tehran cannot discount an armed attack. Moreover, with so many of its neighbours being nuclear armed – Israel, Russia, Pakistan, China and India – a prudent Iranian national security planner is likely to recommend acceleration, not abandonment, of the nuclear program.

The decade-long war against Iran by Mr. Hussein’s Sunni regime was supported by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and politely ignored by the West and the United Nations. Iran has not forgotten that.

Iran’s aggressive posture in the Middle East is, in part, a reaction to its fears of being overwhelmed by Sunni countries surrounding the Shia island. True, Iraq is a Shia majority, but the years of Sunni rule under Mr. Hussein and the ambiguity of Americans in finalizing the Iraqi government around its Shia majority heightened Iranian suspicions. The decade-long war against Iran by Mr. Hussein’s Sunni regime was supported by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and politely ignored by the West and the United Nations. Iran has not forgotten that.

Tehran is opposed to Taliban domination of Afghanistan, at the expense of the sizable Shia Hazara population.

Pakistan, the world’s only Muslim nuclear power and an immediate neighbour, has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal today. In dismissing India’s warnings of a Chinese-assisted weapons program by Pakistan, Washington set the stage for India’s – and Pakistan’s – overt nuclear breakout in 1998. In neglecting the Pakistan factor as a driver of Iran’s nuclear policy, the U.S. may be reducing its leverage over Iran’s actions.

Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal poses two kinds of danger to Iran. The first is the possibility of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or al-Qaeda, both of whom are anathema to the Iranians as much as they are to India and the West. Iran harbours suspicions that Pakistan could be the provider of last resort of nuclear material and weapons to Sunni countries hostile to Shia Iran. After all, Libya tried to buy nuclear weapons from the infamous A.Q. Khan syndicate, backstopped by Pakistan’s armed forces, and the same group was accused of helping the Iraqi search for WMDs.

If Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is seen as a search for security in a hostile Sunni region, and not just as the desire to destroy Israel, it opens up possibilities of solutions other than the one based solely on the current approach. Countries in the Persian Gulf fear they form the first line of attack of a Iranian nuclear weapon. But they’re not quite ready to publicly oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions as long as Israel has nuclear weapons. Innate caution and the ambivalence of the Gulf countries loaded with emotional hostility toward Israel make it expedient for them to leave the issue to Washington. But they should be brought into the dialogue process with Iran, just as Japan and South Korea are integral partners in the six-party talks with North Korea.

If Iran is to be dissuaded from the nuclear weapons path, a realistic assessment of its threat perception is essential. It needs reassurance against Sunni hostility as much as against Israeli and Western threats of invasion and regime change. A continued failure to grasp the security calculus behind Tehran’s interest in nuclear weapons will fail to check proliferation.

Prakash Shah is a former Indian ambassador to the UN and a UN special envoy to Iraq. Ramesh Thakur is a professor of political science at the University of Waterloo and a former UN assistant secretary-general

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Iran to Join Nuclear Power Club as Russia Starts Reactor Under UN’s Watch

Posted by alanmirs on August 20, 2010

Iran to Join Nuclear Power Club as Russia Starts Reactor Under UN’s Watch
By Yuriy Humber and Ladane Nasseri

Aug 20, 2010 10:30 PM GMT+0300

Iran, under United Nations sanctions for its nuclear program, today will end a 36-year quest to join the club of atomic-powered nations when Russia’s Rosatom Corp. switches on a reactor along the Persian Gulf coast

The start-up of the 1,000-megawatt reactor near Bushehr, in southern Iran, will make Iran the first country in the Middle East with a nuclear-energy facility, freeing more of its fossil fuels for export. Iran also becomes only the second Muslim state after Pakistan to have nuclear power, with ambitions to build enough plants to generate 20,000 megawatts within 20 years.

Bushehr will be a “thorn in the eye of ill-seekers,” Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who also heads the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency on Aug. 17.

The U.S., while accepting that the Russian-fueled Bushehr reactor is for civilian use, has attacked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s expansion of the nuclear program to include uranium enrichment. The UN in June passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend enrichment, which can produce reactor fuel or bomb-grade material. Iran denies it plans to make weapons and says the enrichment is for peaceful purposes, such as fueling a medical-research reactor in Tehran.

Today, state-owned Rosatom will begin the fueling process, under the supervision of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. Rosatom Chief Executive Officer Sergei Kiriyenko will join Salehi in an inspection of the control room. The plant will account for less than 4 percent of Iran’s electricity.

Spent Fuel

Under Iran’s agreement with Moscow-based Rosatom, the company will continue to supply uranium for the plant and take away the spent fuel. Bushehr’s operations and fuel deliveries are monitored by the IAEA.

As long as Iran’s work is controlled by the IAEA and all international norms are maintained, a reactor such as Bushehr is acceptable, Kiriyenko, a former Russian nuclear agency chief, said in an Aug. 19 meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Salehi said yesterday that Iran’s goal is to produce enough enriched uranium at its Natanz uranium-enrichment facility to take over from Russia in fueling the Bushehr plant, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran’s insistence on enriching uranium led Russia and China, permanent UN Security Council members, to support the council’s sanctions, which include restrictions on financial transactions with the Islamic state. In July, the U.S. blocked access to the American financial system for banks doing business in Iran. The European Union followed, banning investment and sales of equipment to Iran’s oil and natural-gas industries.

U.S. strategy toward Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t exclude military strikes, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in June.

No ‘Military Purposes’

“The Bushehr technology cannot be used for military purposes even if the authorities wanted to,” said Anton Khlopkov, director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies in Moscow. “The Iranian government will try to use Bushehr to show the population how advanced the economy is.”

Iran introduced gasoline rationing in 2007 because it lacks refinery capacity to meet domestic needs, and has plans to cut fuel subsidies amid the sanctions.

Operating the Bushehr reactor may save Iran, the Middle East’s second-largest oil producer, 11 million barrels of crude or 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas per year, the London-based World Nuclear Association said in a report. Should Iran reach 20,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity, it may earn about $16.5 billion a year from the export of the oil it saves, based on a price of $75 a barrel, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Ahead of Neighbors

The plant will also put Iran at least a decade ahead of more prosperous Middle Eastern neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates, which plans to build four nuclear plants by 2020. Iran joins 29 nations that currently generate nuclear power.

“There is a high element of prestige involved in such high-technology breakthroughs in Iran, which have been few in the last decades,” Khlopkov said.

Iran said this week it will pursue a third uranium- enrichment plant to add to Natanz and one being built at Qom. The country also defended the right to enrich uranium to the 20 percent level, above which it is classified as weapons-grade, for use in the Tehran medical-research reactor.

Iran didn’t notify the IAEA about Natanz until 2002, after beginning work on it in 2000. Plans for the Qom enrichment plant, which is concealed in a tunnel, were revealed in September. Satellite photographs show construction at the Qom site began as long as seven years ago, the IAEA said.

Started by Germans

The Bushehr facility was contracted for in 1974 with a predecessor of Siemens AG, Germany’s largest engineering company. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the monarchy, the Germans quit, saying payments had been delayed.

Russia took over the work after signing a $1 billion contract in 1995, four years after the breakup of the Soviet Union left the nation’s nuclear industry short of funds and domestic orders.

“By dealing with Bushehr, the Russians have been able to increase their know-how and capacity and become competitive with Western countries,” Salehi told IRNA in an interview published Aug. 17. “They owe us a ‘thank you.’ ”



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Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Posted by alanmirs on August 18, 2010

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres and P W Botha The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa. Photograph: Guardian 

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.
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A shift in Arab views of Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 15, 2010

YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsOpinion

A shift in Arab views of Iran

Anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. policy is tilting public opinion in favor of Tehran and against Washington.

August 14, 2010|By Shibley Telhami

President Obama may have scored a diplomatic win by securing international support for biting sanctions against Iran, but Arab public opinion is moving in a different direction. Polling conducted last month by Zogby and the University of Maryland in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates suggests that views in the region are shifting toward a positive perception of Iran’s nuclear program.

These views present problems for Washington, which has counted on Arabs seeing Iran as a threat — maybe even a bigger one than Israel. So why is Arab public opinion toward Iran shifting?

According to our polling, a majority of Arabs do not believe Iran’s claim that it is merely pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. But an overwhelming majority believe that Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons and should not be pressured by the international community to curtail its program. Even more telling, a majority of those polled this year say that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, the outcome would be positive for the Middle East. In 2009, only 29% of respondents viewed that as a positive.

To be sure, the results varied from country to country, with a significant majority in Egypt viewing a nuclear Iran positively, while a majority in the United Arab Emirates viewed such an outcome negatively. However, the trend in the past year is striking.

The shortest path to understanding this turn in Arab public opinion is to examine Arab views of American foreign policy in the Middle East. In the early months of the Obama administration (spring 2009), our polling found that a remarkable 51% of those surveyed expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East, a stark contrast to nearly a decade of gloom that preceded Obama’s election. A little over a year later, however, the number of optimists had dropped to only 16%, with 63% expressing pessimism. This pessimism, more than any other issue, explains the turn in Arab attitudes toward Iran. Arabs tend to view Iran largely through the prism of American and Israeli policies.



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My comment of social problem was taken out

Posted by alanmirs on August 13, 2010

If nations instead of investing in arms provide for research and amend social problems we have a better world lo live in    

Comment was taken out    

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Some Straight Talk About Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 13, 2010



Some Straight Talk About Iran

By joshua | 13 August 2010 | No Comments

After reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy article in The Atlantic about Israeli calculations on whether to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, I’m left with an observation and a judgment.

First, the observation. We’re being ushered into an unusual conversation here. Months before the destruction of the reactor outside Baghdad in 1981, PLO headquarters in Tunis in 1985, the “uncompleted military facility” in northeastern Syria in 2007, or the arms convoy from Iran in the hills of northern Sudan in early 2009, there were no magazine features full of Defense Ministry types discoursing about timelines on a not-for-attribution basis. What’s more, if the Israeli government ever seriously contemplated sending its very capable air force against Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile fleet in the late 1980s or (who knows?) perhaps Algeria’s nuclear reactor in the early 1990s, the decisive meetings of the inner cabinet weren’t exactly held at an al fresco table on the Tel Aviv promenade. Still less did the minutes appear on newsstands outside the UN. One senses this is not how or when real decisions of this sort are made.

It is, on the other hand, one way to inject urgency into the broader discussion about Iran policy. In fact, it’s how Israeli officials have tried to keep the Iran nuclear question high on the agenda in foreign capitals for some time now — and not just in Washington, either.

Second, the judgment. The nuke nerds — you know who you are, people — have failed to contribute effectively to the Iran policy conversation. Too often, it seems, we’re just talking to each another in our own special jargon of UF6, SWUs, SQs, LWR, NPT, NFU, BOG, NSG, and so on and so forth. Amid these minutiae, the larger debate has managed to bypass what I’d consider the hard-won insights that this community has produced on the Iran question over the last several years. That’s a disappointment.

If at First You Don’t Succeed

In the interests of a shot at redemption, here’s some plain American English about Iran’s nuclear program.

(Disclaimer: While the following comes out of years of discussions with scientists and experts, I’m still just speaking for myself.)

1) “To go nuclear.” Anonymous officials like to talk about “going nuclear” without saying what they mean. Just what is it that Iran is supposed to be capable of doing in nine months, five days, and eight hours — give or take thirty-three seconds depending on the sighting of the new moon — that they cannot do now? Make heaps of highly enriched uranium? Presumably not. They’re technically capable of doing that already, and have been for a few years now.

To “go nuclear” could mean, A) to accumulate the knowledge and materials necessary to fashion nuclear weapons. There’s not much left for Iran to do on that front — possibly nothing at all. This is bad, but could be worse.

Or it could mean, B) actually building nuclear weapons in secret. This is worse, but still denies Iran the potential political benefits of owning the bomb.

Or it could mean, C) doing what North Korea did between 1994 and 2009: renouncing treaty obligations, kicking out inspectors, building maybe half a dozen devices, and testing a couple of them. That’s the worst.

Any journalist conversing with a Senior Administration Official who talks about when Iran will “go nuclear” really ought to ask them which of the above things they mean, because they’re very different things.

2) “To break out.” This usually refers to Scenario (B) or (C) above. U.S. intelligence officials like to talk about this subject in terms of timelines, while carefully obscuring their assumptions. That leaves room for a variety of misunderstandings.

Before the Qom facility was exposed in September 2009, many assumed that Iran would someday decide to use its big facility at Natanz to make highly enriched uranium for a bomb, even though its location is known, it’s full of cameras, and international inspectors visit frequently — probably more often than you realize.

As it turns out, though, the intelligence community had a good hunch that the Iranians would actually try to build a secret facility somewhere else instead, far from prying eyes. They even slipped that detail into the much-maligned 2007 National Intelligence Estimate. So it turns out that the official breakout-capability timelines involve activities like excavation and pouring concrete.

That’s not to say that there’s no technical component; it’s possible that the Iranians wouldn’t want to forge ahead until they get an improved breed of gas centrifuges working, because their current ones are terrible and would take a long time to do the work. Whether that sort of thing is factored into the IC’s timelines, I don’t know.

3) “To achieve breakout capability.” My personal favorite. This is related to the distinction between Scenario (A) above and Scenario (B) or (C). The ability to break out is not the same as the intention to do so. And by “intention” I don’t mean “desire” — I mean “intention.” Here’s an example of desire without intention: “I’d really like to ride my motorcycle on a winding mountain road, but it’s too risky.”

The point is, Iran could dig a bunch of holes in mountainsides and even perfect the IR-3 or -4 or -5000 centrifuge, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’d immediately complete a facility or two, quietly commence enrichment operations, build bombs, etc. They might wait for the heat to die down first, or hold the option in reserve against being attacked. By the same token, if they were really prepared to accept the risk, they could have started doing it today or last week or last year at Natanz with the machines they have, and just dared us to bomb it. Breakout is fundamentally a political decision, not a technical threshold.

4) “Playing for time.” And here’s the bottom line. If Iran is going to achieve breakout capability at a hidden facility somewhere — call it Son of Qom — then bombing Natanz won’t address that problem. It’s often asserted, with an air of worldy maturity and sobriety, that a resort to arms will only provide a few years’ breathing room. If Natanz were the only possible place in Iran to set up centrifuges, that would make a certain sense. But it isn’t, so it doesn’t. The truth is closer to the opposite. Iran today is at worst pursuing Scenario (A) or (B). Bombing Natanz is liable to produce Scenario (C), breakout à la Pyongyang, full speed ahead.

The name of the game today isn’t bombing, it’s intelligence. To play for time, we try to catch Iran at building the Son of Qom in preparation for Scenario (B). But when that happens, if we are clever, we won’t bomb Son of Qom, opening the door to Scenario (C). Instead, we’ll shut that sucker down with a press conference. That’s intelligence, too, in the plain sense of the word.


What’s your take?

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The morning after the attack on Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 12, 2010

  • Published 02:04 12.08.10
  • Latest update 02:04 12.08.10

The morning after the attack on Iran

How will the international community respond the next day?

By Ze’ev Maoz

One of the less discussed aspects of a possible Israeli attack on Iran is the international community’s response. A plausible scenario that should be taken into account is the possibility of massive international pressure on Israel. This would consist of American pressure (assuming the attack is carried out without the United States’ agreement ) for disarming from the nuclear weapons Israel supposedly has, or to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and subject its nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s supervision


This scenario becomes less imaginary in view of the decision made by the treaty’s review conference in June regarding Israel, and especially the change in the United States’ position on the global nuclear arms issue. An attack launched by a state believed to possess nuclear weapons outside the NPT on another, even if the latter aspires to obtain nuclear weapons, will be comprehensively and totally condemned.


Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Photo by: Reuters

Even those few researchers of Israel’s defense policy who think, as I do, that Israel must reach an agreement to disarm the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction deem this scenario undesirable, to put it mildly. If Israel withstands the pressure, it could find itself in isolation, possibly including an embargo on weapons, materiel and equipment for both military and civilian uses. If Israel succumbs to the pressure, it will be forced to give up a strategic bargaining chip that could lead to a regional defense regimen, including a reliable nuclear demilitarization (with regional supervision and monitoring systems with higher credibility standards that IAEA’s ).

Yet again it transpires that Israel’s nuclear policy is fundamentally erroneous. There is no proof this policy has achieved even one of its declared goals. It did not prevent attacks on populated areas in the Gulf War, the Second Lebanon War or from Gaza. A nuclear threat cannot be used to quash an intifada. The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, in which Israel’s nuclear capability played no role, significantly reduced the conventional threat on Israel. And most importantly, every time someone in the Middle East begins developing nuclear weapons, we stop believing in nuclear deterrence and set out to destroy the Arab/Iranian potential.

There is considerable evidence attesting that Israel’s nuclear capability constituted both an incentive and a model for the attempts of several states in the region to develop nuclear weapons, and accelerated the chemical and biological capabilities of Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and even Egypt. If the Israeli offensive fails, or if Israel is "persuaded" to refrain from attacking and Iran obtains a nuclear capability, other states in the region could follow in its footsteps.

The reality of a nuclear Middle East is becoming increasingly likely. The dilemma Israel faces in the longer run is between a nuclear Middle East and a demilitarized one. Either everyone in the region has nuclear weapons or no state has.

The growing likelihood of tomorrow’s scenario also requires a reexamination of nuclear policy. An Israeli initiative for a complete demilitarization of the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction should be considered. Israel could lead a move that would create a defense regimen on its own terms – instead of unilateral disarmament following international pressure. The nuclear horizon is not so distant. It is time to consider what lies beyond it



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U.S. and EU fail to isolate Iran

Posted by alanmirs on August 9, 2010

U.S. and EU fail to isolate Iran

August 08, 2010|By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

China, Russia, India and Turkey move into the lucrative void left by U.S. and EU sanctions that aim to halt Iran’s nuclear program

  • Reuters

Reporting from Washington — Efforts by the United States and its European allies to build a united front to halt Iran’s nuclear program are facing increasingly bold resistance from China, Russia, India and Turkey, which are rushing to boost their economies by seizing investment opportunities in defiance of sanctions imposed by the West.

The Obama administration and the European Union opted to try to toughen United Nations sanctions against Iran with their own unilateral restrictions on foreign companies that do business with Tehran’s energy sector, hoping that squeezing the country’s most lucrative industry can force the Islamist government to bend on its nuclear program



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