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Iran says can make own nuclear fuel plates, rods

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi declared in a report Saturday that Iran is now capable of making its own nuclear fuel plates and rods, technology the West says the Islamic republic does not possess.

Two Iranian technicians at the zirconium production plant inside the Isfahan nuclear facility

Salehi, the driving force behind Iran’s contentious atomic programme, said the country has completed the construction of a facility in the central city of Isfahan to the fuel plates and rods which power nuclear reactors.

“We have built an advanced manufacturing unit in the Isfahan site for the fuel plates,” Salehi, who is also acting foreign minister, told Fars news agency in what was said to be an exclusive interview.

“A grand transformation has taken place in the production of (nuclear) plates and rods. With the completion of the unit in Isfahan, we are one of the few countries which can produce fuel rods and fuel plates.”

Salehi said it was the Western policies towards the Islamic republic which had propelled its nuclear achievements, including the making of nuclear plates and rods.

“This is in fact because of West’s actions that we came to this point,” he said.

“What we say is based on reality and truth. There is no exaggeration or deception in our work. It is them who do not want to believe that Iran has no intention, but to obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”

The West led by the United States suspects that Iran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

On November 23, Salehi had told state news agency IRNA that Iran would produce the nuclear fuel required for a research reactor in Tehran by September 2011.

“By the month of Shahrivar next year (September 2011), we will produce fuel for the reactor,” said Salehi, who is also one of Iran’s vice presidents.

Western powers have repeatedly said Iran does not possess the technology to make the actual nuclear fuel plates required to power the Tehran research reactor which makes medical isotopes.

In February 2010, Iran started refining uranium to 20 percent with the purpose of using it to make the plates that could power the reactor.

That came amid a deadlock with world powers over a nuclear fuel swap deal drafted by the UN atomic watchdog and aimed at providing fuel for the research unit.

Salehi told Fars Iran has now produced nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium enriched to the 20-percent level, despite Western calls for Tehran to suspend the work.

“We have nearly 40 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium,” he said in the interview.

The Islamic republic is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, the process at the centre of fears about Iran’s atomic work.

Enriched uranium can be used as fuel to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.

Salehi’s latest declaration comes ahead of the next round of talks in Istanbul between Iran and the six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

On Friday, an aide to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the talks could resume from January 20.

“It’s a tentative date we’re looking at… We have positive feedback from Iran,” Ashton’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told AFP, adding the talks were expected to last one and half days.

A previous round of talks between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — spearheaded by Ashton, took place in Geneva on December 6-7.

That round followed a 14-month hiatus in the talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.


Source: SGGP

A million protest pensions plan as fuel shortages bite

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 am

PARIS (AFP) – Strikes threatening to paralyse France’s economy looked set to rumble on into Wednesday after a million people took to the street for their right to retire at 60 and fuel shortages began to bite.

Clashes erupted between youths and riot police in several towns Tuesday and shops in the city of Lyon were looted as workers and students came out in force around the country to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular reform.

People demonstrate in Marseille, southern France. AFP

Sarkozy refused to back down however and leading unions in some sectors including airports called for stoppages to continue on Wednesday, while oil refineries remained blocked, hit by a week of strikes.

The DGAC aviation authority said a quarter of flights from Orly, Paris’s second-biggest airport, would be cancelled on Wednesday morning but did not detail further disruption at the main hub, Charles de Gaulle.

Around one in three flights at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and regional airports were cancelled on Tuesday, while one in three filling stations ran out of fuel, the government said.

The latest day of protests, the sixth since September, drew around 1.1 million people onto the streets, police said, slightly fewer than the 1.23 million on the last comparable day, October 12.

The CGT, France’s biggest union, told AFP it estimated overall turnout at 3.5 million, equal to its estimate for October 12. Unions’ estimates have habitually been several times higher than those of police.

With more than 200 protests on Tuesday, all 12 French oil refineries shut down by strikes and truckers blocking roads, Sarkozy instructed the cabinet to draw up a plan to stop France grinding to a standstill.

Environment and Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said that “a little under 4,000 petrol stations are awaiting deliveries.” There are around 12,500 filling stations in France.

French fuel and heating federation FF3C said the “extremely worrying” situation “should definitely be called a shortage”, while the International Energy Agency said France has “sufficient stocks” to deal with the situation.

Authorities in Normandy requisitioned 12 petrol stations for use by rescue and emergency services, while Prime Minister Francois Fillon said a third of departments or local administrations were experiencing fuel shortages.

Fillon chaired a meeting with several ministers and oil industry officials on how to deal with the crisis and ministers later held talks with Sarkozy.

Fillon’s office said the government would ensure access to fuel depots, many of which are blocked by strikers, and that distributors would pool their fuel and trucks to help needy stations.

The interior minister promised tough action as clashes erupted anew outside a secondary school in Nanterre, near Paris, where youths burned a car and threw rocks at riot police for the second day in a row.

Police fired tear gas and arrested nine youth protestors in Lyon who had overturned cars and set one alight. At least five shops were later looted, police said.

Nine people were arrested Tuesday in Paris, police said.

The ministry said that 1,158 troublemakers had been arrested at demonstrations since the start of the week, 163 of them on Tuesday morning.

The powerful CGT union’s transport section called for their strike action to be renewed on Wednesday, encompassing airport staff, air traffic controllers, public transport workers and employees of national railways operator SNCF.

Unions want to force Sarkozy to abandon a bill to raise the minimum retirement age to 62, which is in the final days of its journey through a parliament in which the right-wing leader enjoys a comfortable majority.

Most French back the current protests, with a poll published Monday in the popular Le Parisien daily showing that 71 percent of those asked expressed either support or sympathy for the movement.

A poll published Tuesday showed that Sarkozy’s approval rating dropped this month to its lowest in three years at 30 percent, two percentage points less than when the main pension protests started in September.

Source: SGGP

Cars burned, fuel short in France pensions protest

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

France faces a sixth day of national protests Tuesday against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pensions reform, with the stakes rising after youths battled riot police and filling stations ran dry.

Tuesday’s coordinated protest is the latest in a series of mounting actions against Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, and follows days of strikes, skirmishes and full-blown street marches.

On Monday police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at youths who set a car on fire, smashed bus stops and hurled rocks outside a school in Nanterre, near Paris, blocked by students protesting the pensions reform.

Youths threw petrol bombs at police outside a school in another Paris suburb, Combes-la-Ville, police said. In Lyon, hooded youngsters burned at least three cars they had overturned during clashes with riot police.

A striker throws a tyre on a fire during a protest outside a fuel storage depot on October 18, 2010 in Donges, western France.

The interior ministry said police arrested 290 rioters in various towns, and that four police officers had been injured in the scuffles.

Nearly 300 schools were disrupted by protests, officials said, and cities across France saw students take part in fresh street demonstrations, several of which saw police arresting rampaging youths.

Meanwhile, truck drivers also joined the movement that has brought millions onto the streets in recent weeks, and rubbish continued to pile up in the streets of Marseille due to a strike by collectors.

“We now need to block the economy to force the government to withdraw its plan,” said Vincent Duse, a CGT union leader at an auto factory in Mulhouse.

Truckers staged go-slows on motorways near Paris and several provincial cities, drivers blocked access to goods supply depots and joined oil workers blocking fuel depots to defend their right to retire at 60.

Production at all France’s oil refineries remained shut down since last week, causing hundreds of filling stations to run dry, industry associations said.

The government announced it had activated an emergency crisis cell charged with maintaining fuel supplies

“We will stay here as long as we can,” said the CFDT’s Joseph Sieiro, one of the hundred people, most of them truckers, who turned up to block an oil terminal at Port-La-Nouvelle in southern France.

Further disruption was due on Tuesday, the sixth coordinate national action in less than two months.

Half of all flights to and from Paris Orly airport and 30 percent of flights at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and other French airports will be cancelled due to Tuesday’s strikes, aviation officials said.

The government has so far shown no sign of backing down and Sarkozy vowed on Monday that the reform will pass.

“This reform is essential. France is committed to it. France will carry it out,” he told reporters.

Unions want to force Sarkozy to abandon a bill to raise the minimum retirement age to 62, which is in the final days of its journey through a parliament in which the right-wing leader enjoys a comfortable majority.

Sarkozy has staked his credibility on the bill, but unions are hoping for a repeat of 1995, when Jacques Chirac’s government backed down on pension reform after a paralysing transport strike.

The government has shown no sign of backing down on the reform, currently being examined by the Senate, which on Monday pushed back the final vote until at least Thursday with hundreds of amendments still to be debated.

Most French back the current protests, with a poll published Monday in the popular Le Parisien daily showing that 71 percent of those asked expressed either support or sympathy.

“It is perfectly normal and natural that this (reform) causes worries and opposition,” Sarkozy told reporters in Deauville, western France, where he was due to hold a summit with Russia and Germany.

“It is also normal and natural that a democratic government… should ensure motorists can find fuel and that there are no clashes.”

Source: SGGP

Sarkozy sends police to open fuel depots blocked by strikes

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

PARIS, Oct 15, 2010 (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy sent in police Friday to reopen fuel depots blocked by strikers, as France’s bitter battle over the right to retire at 60 escalated.

But even as police forced open the gates of some depots, strikers threw up new pickets at other distribution centres across the country to fight against moves to hike the retirement age to 62.

A tanker truck drives pas French gendarmes securing the oil terminal in Fos-sur-Mer on October 15, 2010 after police moved in to reopen three fuel storage depots blocked by striking workers. AFP

Sarkozy took the decision to send in the police in order to prevent fuel shortages amid reports of panic buying after eight of France’s 12 refineries shut down operations because of the strikes, his office said.

Workers at a depot in Fos-sur-Mer, near the Mediterranean city of Marseille, did not resist when police intervened to reopen a facility that had had been shut since Thursday, unions said.

Police also reopened depots at Bassens and Lespinasse in the southwest and Cournon d’Auvergne in the centre of the country.

But strikers threw up fresh pickets in at least five fuel depots on Friday, at Caen and Ouistreham in the north, Le Mans and Vern-sur-Seiche in the northwest, and La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast.

France’s main unions have upped the ante in their fight against pension reform, calling for their members and supporters to hold the fifth in a series street rallies on Saturday and another one next Tuesday.

A nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations last Tuesday brought more than a million people on to the streets, and workers in some sectors have kept up their stoppages since then.

High school pupils have also demonstrated in several cities in what is traditionally interpreted in France as a sign of hardening resistance.

Pupils threw stones at police at two schools north of Paris on Thursday and officers clashed with youths and made arrests in the northern city of Lens.

On Friday more than 300 schools were affected by student protests, officials said, and in the Riviera city of Cannes a police officer was injured by a stone thrown during a student protest.

“There have never since 1995 been as many protestors … from both the public and private sectors, and now from all generations,” Bernard Thibault, the head of the powerful CGT union, told LCI television.

In 1995 then president Jacques Chirac backed down over pension reform after a three-week transport strike that paralysed France.

But despite the ongoing strikes and protests, the current government shows no sign of backing down on what is a cornerstone of the Sarkozy’s reform agenda as he prepares for his likely re-election battle in 2012.

Key parts of the reform, part of efforts to rein in France’s public deficit, have been definitively passed by the upper house Senate and the government hopes for it to be passed in its entirety by the end of the month.

Unions and the Socialist opposition say the right-wing president is making workers pay an unfair share of the bill for the financial crisis and have made alternative proposals for funding the deficit.

Source: SGGP

France fuel supply threatened by pensions standoff

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm

PARIS (AFP) – France faced the threat of fuel shortages on Thursday, a day after a wave of strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform plans shut down 70 percent of its oil refining capacity.

The closure of the refineries carries the threat of further disruption if fuel stocks in depots and filling stations run low in coming weeks.

(AFP) An employee of French oil giant Total makes a victory sign after a meeting to decide on further strike action at the group’s refinerie in Donges

But Sarkozy remained determined to resist pressure to back down over his plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

He told a meeting of right-wing lawmakers he would “go no further” in terms of concessions, according to allies present at the lunch.

“Until the end of my mandate, I will put new ideas and reforms on the table,” he said, promising to stay the course in the run-up to his expected 2012 re-election bid.

On Wednesday, a day after a massive nationwide protest brought more than a million workers and students into the streets, dozens of follow-on strikes erupted around the country, disrupting transport, schooling and services.

In some sectors the total number of strikers had declined since Tuesday.

But eight of France’s 12 refineries were in the course of shutting down operations — a process that can take 48 hours to complete — and another three saw their output severely disrupted by strike action.

“We are hardening our stance,” warned Charles Foulard, head of the CGT union’s branch at the French oil giant Total, confirming that members had voted for an open-ended strike.

A Total spokesman confirmed the shutdowns, but the chairman of the oil industry association said France’s network of fuel depots had enough stocks to keep its 12,500 filling stations running for the moment.

However Jean-Louis Schilansky warned that “If the situation continues as it is now, we’ll have to take a serious look at the problem of strategic stocks.”

There were scattered reports of panic buying causing tail-backs at filling stations and local shortages, and — as more fuel will have to be imported rather than refined in France — price rises were expected.

One Total refinery near Nantes in the west voted to continue its strike until Monday. Another near Rouen in the north, run by Petroplus, rolled over its strike into Thursday.

As the petrochemical industry complained it was losing hundreds of millions of dollars due to the refinery strike, unions pledged more protests on Saturday. Bernard Thibault, leader of the CGT, said they were “looking for new ways to pressure the government.”

Tuesday’s day of action saw students and school pupils join the rallies for the first time, swelling the marchers’ numbers to between 1.2 and 3.5 million across the country, according to rival police and labour estimates.

On Wednesday only one high-speed intercity link in three was operating and only four in 10 regional expresses, according to the SNCF national train firm.

International rail services such as the Eurostar to London and the Thalys to Belgium and the Netherlands were unaffected, and flights from Paris’s main airports returned to normal after Tuesday’s disruption.

Sarkozy’s supporters have stepped up moves to push the pensions reform bill through parliament, gambling that protests will subside once it is passed.

But the vote on the bill in the French senate, which had been expected on Friday or Saturday, has been pushed back until October 20 to allow more time for debate, a lawmaker told AFP.

The right-wing president insists that with people living longer and France’s public deficit at record levels, the French will have to work longer in order to help stem the shortfall in the social security account.

Unions and the Socialist opposition object that Sarkozy is making workers pay an unfair share of the bill for the financial crisis and have vowed to resist any attempt to abandon the cherished age-60 retirement age.

Source: SGGP

Russia: Iran’s nuclear plant to get fuel next week

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

Russia announced Friday it will begin the startup next week of Iran’s only atomic power plant, giving Tehran a boost as it struggles with international sanctions and highlighting differences between Moscow and Washington over pressuring the Islamic Republic to give up activities that could be used to make nuclear arms.

Uranium fuel shipped by Russia will be loaded into the Bushehr reactor on Aug. 21, beginning a process that will last about a month and end with the reactor sending electricity to Iranian cities, Russian and Iranian officials said.

“From that moment, the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear energy installation,” said Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency.

In this photo released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), the reactor building of Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is seen, just outside the port city of Bushehr 750 miles (1245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, in this Nov. 30, 2009 file photo.

If Russia carries out its plan, it will end years of foot-dragging on Bushehr. While Moscow signed a $1 billion contract to build the plant in 1995, its completion has been put off for years.

Moscow has cited technical reasons for the delays. But Bushehr has also been an ideal way to gain leverage with both Tehran and Washington.

Delaying the project has given Russia continued influence with Tehran in international attempts to have it stop uranium enrichment — a program Iran says it needs to make fuel for an envisaged reactor network but which also can be used to create fissile warhead material. The delays also have served to placate the U.S., which opposes rewarding Iran while it continues to defy the U.N. Security Council with its nuclear activities.

After Russia said in March that Bushehr would be launched this year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that until Iran reassures the world it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon, “it would be premature to go ahead with any project at this time.”

Formally, the U.S. has no problem with Bushehr.

Although at first opposed to Russian participation in the project, Washington and its allies agreed to remove any reference to it in the first set of Security Council sanctions passed in 2006 in exchange for Moscow’s support for those penalties. Three subsequent sanctions resolutions also have no mention of Bushehr.

The terms of the deal commit the Iranians to allow the Russians to retrieve all used reactor fuel for reprocessing. Spent fuel contains plutonium, which can be used to make atomic weapons. Additionally, Iran has said that International Atomic Energy Agency experts will be able to verify that none of the fresh fuel or waste is diverted.

Still, the U.S. sees the Russian move as a false signal to Tehran as Washington strives to isolate Iran politically and economically to force it to compromise on enrichment.

A senior diplomat from an IAEA member nation said Friday the Americans had “raised those concerns with the Russians” in recent weeks. The diplomat, who is familiar with the issue, spoke on condition of anonymity because his information was confidential.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Bushehr “does not represent a proliferation risk. … However, Bushehr underscores that Iran does not need its own indigenous enrichment capability. The fact that Russia is providing fuel is the very model the international community has offered Iran.”

Russia, in turn, argues that the Bushehr project is essential for persuading Iran to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and fulfill its obligations under international nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

Crowley added: “Our views on the Bushehr project should not be confused with the world’s fundamental concerns with Iran’s overall nuclear intentions, particularly its pursuit of uranium enrichment, and Iran’s willful violation of its international obligations.”

Russian officials did not say why they had decided to move ahead with loading fuel into the Bushehr plant now. But the move could have been triggered in part by Moscow’s desire show the Iranians it can act independently from Washington after its decision to support the fourth set of U.N. sanctions in June and its continued refusal to ship surface-to-air missile systems that it agreed to provide under a 2007 contract to sell the S-300s.

The sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles would significantly boost Iran’s ability to defend against airstrikes. Israel and the United States have strongly objected to the deal.

Russia has walked a fine line on Iran for years. One of six world powers leading international efforts to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, it has strongly criticized the U.S. and the European Union for following up with separate sanctions after the latest U.N. penalties — which Moscow supported — were passed.

Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who also heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying that the country had invited IAEA experts to watch the transfer of fuel, which was shipped about two years ago, into the Bushehr reactor.

“Fuel complexes are sealed (and being monitored by IAEA). Naturally, IAEA inspectors will be there to watch the unsealing,” ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

Russia has said the Bushehr project has been closely supervised by the IAEA. But the U.N. watchdog has no monitoring authority at the plant beyond ensuring that its nuclear fuel is accounted for, and U.S. and EU officials have expressed safety concerns.

They note that Iran — leery of opening up its nuclear activities to outsiders — refuses to sign on to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, making it subject to international monitoring of its atomic safety standards.

“We expect Iran to meet established international norms and practices to ensure the safe operation of the reactor under full safeguards monitoring” by the IAEA, Crowley said.

Source: SGGP

Fuel crisis as Greek truckers step up strike

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

ATHENS (AFP) – Greece’s government on Wednesday called crisis talks to deal with a nationwide fuel crisis as a truckers’ strike entered its third day at the height of the busy tourism season.

Fuel has run out in all but a few of the capital’s petrol stations and shortages are already reported in many major cities.

People stand next to a sign reading ‘only Super in a petrol station in Athens on July 27, 2010. AFP

The transport ministry has invited union leaders to talks to break the deadlock which began over plans to liberalise the freight sector.

The truckers say that opening the sector by reducing new licence charges is unfair to existing operators who have already paid high start-up fees running up to 300,000 euros (390,000 dollars).

“The state sold us these licences, so the state should compensate us,” the head of the truckers’ union George Tsamos told Flash Radio.

The protest has had a major impact on the country’s tourism season which is vital to the Greek economy as it battles an unprecedented financial crisis.

Hoteliers on Wednesday said they were already facing cancellations from vacationers unwilling to risk the journey until the protest ends.

“We have started receiving an important number of cancellations,” said Nikos Papalexis, the head of the Achaia hoteliers union in the northwestern Peloponnese peninsula.

“If this situation continues, a lot of hotels will have to dismiss staff or even shut down,” he told state television NET.

Source: SGGP

Britain, Germany, UAE airports ‘refuse fuel to Iran jets’

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Airports in Britain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates have refused to refuel Iranian passenger planes since Washington imposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran last week, ISNA news agency said Monday.

An Iran Air plane at Paris-Orly airport. Airports in Britain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates have refused to offer fuel to Iranian passenger jets after unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington, ISNA news agency said

IRNA, the official state news agency, said in a separate report that Kuwaiti airports have also turned down fuel for Iranian passenger planes.

“Since last week, after the passing of the unilateral law by America and the sanctions against Iran, airports in England, Germany, the UAE have refused to give fuel to Iranian planes,” ISNA quoted Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of Iranian Airlines Union, as saying.

The decision by the airports in these countries comes at a time when a large number of expatriate Iranians, especially those in Europe, travel to and from Iran for summer holidays.

Aliyari said their refusal has so far impacted Iran Air, the national carrier, and a leading private airline, Mahan Air, as both operate several flights to Europe.

Pervez Sorouri, a lawmaker and member of Iranian parliament’s committee on foreign policy and national security, warned of a retaliatory action by Tehran, especially towards the United Arab Emirates.

He said Iran was an important trade partner of the UAE which is emerging from a financial crisis and “this (UAE’s refusal) can have some reaction from Iran,” ISNA reported.

Last Thursday, US President Barack Obama signed into law the toughest ever US sanctions on Iran, which he said would strike at Tehran’s capacity to finance its nuclear programme and deepen its isolation.

The measures, on top of new United Nations and European sanctions, aim to choke off Iran’s access to imports of refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel, and to curb its access to the international banking system.

“With these sanctions — along with others — we are striking at the heart of the Iranian government’s ability to fund and develop its nuclear programmes,” Obama said before signing the sanctions into law.

“There should be no doubt: the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

World powers led by Washington suspect Tehran is making nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian atomic programme. Iran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.

On June 9, the UN Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions against Iran, which was followed by unilateral punitive measures by the European Union and later by the United States.

Iran could lodge a complaint to the United Nations and the International Civil Aviation Organisation over the action of these airports, lawmaker Kazem Jalali was quoted as saying by the English-language Iran News.

“A special committee has been set up in the Iranian majlis (parliament) to study the US sanctions on jet fuel,” Jalali said. “The US president has done his best to isolate the Islamic republic of Iran but to no avail.”

On Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once again dismissed the sanctions imposed on Iran.

“The sanctions that they have imposed do not strike a blow at Iran … They have imposed these sanctions to defend themselves and they know they cannot do anything,” the hardliner said in the northwestern city of Bonab.

All the four set of UN sanctions have been imposed on Iran under the presidency of Ahmadinejad who has defiantly pursued Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Source: SGGP

Iran threatens to drop nuclear fuel deal

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 at 9:19 am

 Iran could abandon a nuclear fuel deal, which it says recognises Tehran’s right to enrich uranium, if world powers do not accept it in full, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said on Saturday.

“Parliament backs the Tehran Declaration (on a fuel swap deal) in its entirety. If they seek to consider it partially, the house will not accept that,” Larijani said, quoted by the state IRNA news agency.

“It will not be compatible with the Tehran Declaration if they have extra demands and pursue deception,” he said, without elaborating.

A deal brokered this week by Brazil and Turkey to ship half of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for a swap with reactor fuel recognises Tehran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, according to a joint declaration carried by Iranian media.

Iran could abandon a nuclear fuel deal, which it says recognises Tehran’s right to enrich uranium, if world powers do not accept it in full, parliament speaker Ali Larijani, pictured on May 11, said on Saturday

But the UN Security Council has called on Iran to halt uranium enrichment in five resolutions, and world powers led by the United States are seeking further sanctions against Tehran over its defiance.

Larijani insisted the deal has “things to offer for us and for the other party, and it is a logical framework for talks.”

The comments came after his deputy Mohammad Reza Bahonar also warned Iran would pull out of the fuel deal if the UN Security Council slaps further sanctions on the Islamic republic over its continued uranium enrichment.

Washington and its Western allies have been dismissive of the new deal, saying it does not address international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.

But a spokesman for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a driving force behind the deal, said on Saturday that the agreement contained “to a great extent” provisions that US President Barack Obama suggested in a letter sent to Lula two weeks ago.

Influential cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had earlier denounced Western reactions to the deal and their push for sanctions, saying “Iran is very serious and determined” in its pursuit of nuclear technology.

“Hostile countries headed by America should have welcomed Iran’s recent diplomatic move, which can still accommodate international discussions,” the former president was quoted as saying on the state television website.

“They should be aware that Iran will not back down on its right in the face of threats, intimidation and psychological warfare.”

Tehran denies seeking to make nuclear weapons through enrichment and insists it has the right to enrich uranium to produce fuel as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

However, Tehran sparked international concern in February by stepping up its enrichment level to 20 percent — still much lower than bomb grade.

On Tuesday, the United States submitted a draft UN resolution calling for an international clampdown on Iranian banks, shipping and business dealings that could be linked to its nuclear activities.

The draft has the backing of all five of the veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, including the usual standouts China and Russia, according to Washington.

On Monday, Iran will formally notify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the deal and has said it awaits a swift response from world powers.

To help resolve the long-running nuclear standoff, the IAEA made a proposal to Iran last October to ship most of its LEU out of the country in return for higher grade reactor fuel to be supplied by Russia and France.

Iran stalled on the deal, insisting it wants a simultaneous swap on its own soil, which was rejected by world powers.

Brazil and Turkey, which are among the 10 non-permanent Security Council members, have urged world powers to consider their agreement with Tehran and drop the drive for new sanctions.


Source: SGGP

Spy row, golf game fuel Thai-Cambodia row

In World on November 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Nov 13, 2009 (AFP) – Cambodian police said Friday they had charged a Thai man with spying on fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, further inflaming a diplomatic crisis between the neighbouring countries.

The spy row blew up as Thaksin played a relaxed round of golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, underscoring Bangkok’s powerlessness to make Phnom Penh extradite the billionaire and get him to serve a jail term for graft.

Cambodian soldiers in armoured vehicles are received by a welcome ceremony in Siem Reap province on November 13, 2009, as they withdraw from the Preah Vihear temple near the Cambodian-Thai border. (AFP photo)

Siwarak Chothipong, 31, who works for the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, was arrested and charged Thursday with supplying Thailand with details of Thaksin’s flight schedule, said Cambodian national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith.

“We sent him to the court yesterday and he was charged with releasing information related to the national security of Cambodia,” Kirt Chantharith told AFP.

“He tried to search for information related to the special flight of Thaksin in order to send it out of the country,” Kirt Chantharith added, later specifying that the information was sent to Thailand.

Police were investigating whether more people were involved, he added.

Thailand rejected the “malicious” allegations against its citizen.

“It’s not true. It is a malicious and false claim,” Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told reporters before boarding a flight with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to a regional summit in Singapore.

“Thaksin feels he must destroy Thailand and collaborate with Hun Sen.”

Cambodia expelled a top Thai diplomat and Thailand reciprocated on Thursday in a sign of the growing tensions caused by the Cambodian government’s appointment of Thaksin earlier this month as an economic adviser.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday to take up the role and Hun Sen on Wednesday rejected Bangkok’s formal extradition request for Thaksin.

The countries had already recalled their ambassadors last week.

Thaksin Friday met a group of supporters before playing golf with Hun Sen in the tourist hub of Siem Reap. Hun Sen and Cambodian officials laughed and applauded Thaksin’s shot as he teed off first at the luxury Angkor Golf Resort.

He was later due to meet around 50 MPs from Thailand’s main pro-Thaksin party, Puea Thai, who had crossed the border Friday, Puea Thai lawmaker Pongpan Sunthornrachai said.

Telecommunications mogul Thaksin hit out at the Thai government during a lecture in the capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, accusing Thai rulers of “false patriotism”.

Thaksin has pledged to help impoverished Cambodia understand finance, reduce poverty and lure more foreign investment. Cambodian officials have indicated he would leave the country Friday or Saturday and was not intending to live there.

Abhisit on Thursday ordered a review of two road construction projects with Cambodia that involved loans of more than 1.4 billion baht (42 million dollars) to Phnom Penh, the finance ministry said.

Thailand has already put all talks and cooperation programmes with Cambodia on hold and also tore up an oil and gas exploration deal signed during Thaksin’s time in power.

Tensions were already high between the two countries following a series of clashes over disputed territory near an ancient temple and the row threatens to mar a weekend summit of regional leaders with US President Barack Obama.

Twice-elected Thaksin fled Thailand in August 2008, a month before a court sentenced him to two years in jail in a conflict of interest case. He had returned to Thailand just months earlier for the first time since the coup.

But he has retained enormous influence in Thai politics by stirring up protests against the current government, and analysts said that in Hun Sen he had found a new way to push for a return to power.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share