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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

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

Iran quake kills seven, wrecks villages

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:30 am

TEHRAN, Dec 21, 2010 (AFP) – A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Iran, wrecking villages, bringing down power lines, and killing up to seven people and injuring hundreds more, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.


The late Monday quake, with its epicentre near the town of Hosseinabad in Kerman province, was followed by more than 30 further tremors, including one of 5.0 magnitude, the Mehr news agency said, quoting the geophysics department of Tehran university.

Iranian men gather around the bodies of victims killed in the earthquake. AFP

State media reported that mild tremors continued into Tuesday near the epicentre of the main quake.


“So far damage has been concentrated in villages in the areas of Sahraj, and seven dead and hundreds of injured have been pulled from the debris,” Mehr quoted Kerman governor Esmail Najjar as saying.


“Considering the damage, the death toll is expected to rise,” he added.


Other Iranian media gave slightly different casualty tolls. The state television website quoted the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Gholam Reza Masoumi, as saying that four people had died.


The deputy governor of Kerman province, Javad Kamali, told state television that five people had died and that the death toll could rise.


“Around 30 villages are still cut off as they are in a mountainous region. Our helicopters have been despatched since early morning and we will get a fuller assessment later in the day,” Kamali said.


The quake struck at 10:12 pm (1842 GMT) on Monday and was felt as far away as the neighbouring province of Sistan-Baluchestan on the Pakistan border.


State media reports said the temblor brought down communication and power lines and wrecked villages around the epicentre of Hosseinabad, many of which consist of mud-brick homes.


Nearly two dozen villages were partially or completely destroyed, the reports said, adding that members of the Basij militia had been deployed to help the victims.


Hosseinabad lies near the city of Bam, the site of the deadliest earthquake to hit Iran in recent times.


The 6.3-magnitude quake in December 2003 killed 31,000 people — about a quarter of Bam’s population — and destroyed the city’s ancient mud-built citadel.


Iran sits astride several major fault lines in the Earth’s crust and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating.

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Source: SGGP

Iran says 11 members of Sunni militant group hanged

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

TEHRAN, Dec 20, 2010 (AFP) – Iran on Monday hanged 11 members of Sunni militant group Jundallah which claimed last week’s devastating suicide bombing of a Shiite mourning procession, a judiciary official said.


“This morning 11 members of those belonging to (Jundallah), who in recent months were involved in terrorist attacks in the province (Sistan-Baluchestan), fighting with police, and martyring several innocent people have been hanged in Zahedan jail,” Ebrahim Hamidi, head of the provincial justice department, told state news agency IRNA.


Jundallah (Army of God) is a shadowy Sunni militant group which has claimed several deadly attacks in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province, including a December 15 suicide bombing in the city of Chabahar which killed 39 people and wounded dozens.

An Iranian baker displays loaves of bread at a bakery in central Tehran on December 19, 2010 as the Iranian government began to implement its controversial plan of scrapping subsidies on energy and food products as part of the reforms which had been in the pipeline for several years. AFP

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Source: SGGP

At least seven killed, hundreds injured in Iran quake

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:31 am

At least seven people were killed in a 6.5-magnitude earthquake that jolted southeastern Iran on Monday, damaging buildings in outlying mountainous areas, the region’s governor said.


“Seven people have been killed and hundreds have been injured. Hundreds of people are still trapped under the rubbles,” Esmail Najjar, governor of Iran’s Kerman province, the center of the quake, told the semi-official Mehr news agency.


State television said at least three villages had been destroyed.


The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 6.3.


The official IRNA news agency said nine aftershocks had hit since the main quake, including one of magnitude 5. Telephone lines had been cut.


Mohammad Javad Kamyab, an employee of Kerman province governor’s office, told Reuters there were 30 villages in the quake-hit area.


“These villages are not heavily populated…We are not expecting a high death toll and so far 25 people have been injured,” he said.


Another local official said access to the damaged villages “was very difficult.”


“Rescue teams have been dispatched to the quake-hit area … and are communicating via walkie-talkies,” Hossein Baqeri, head of Iran’s National Crisis Management unit, told state television.


The semi-official Fars news agency said the quake was also felt in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.


“Many people left their houses in the city of Zahedan … It was also felt in the towns of Bam, Khash and Iranshahr,” Fars reported.


Ali Reza, a resident of Bam, told Reuters by telephone: “There was no damage in the city of Bam but we felt the quake.”


The province of Kerman is highly prone to earthquakes. Some 31,000 people were killed when an earthquake razed Bam in 2003.


Kerman is not one of the oil-producing regions of Iran, the world’s fourth-biggest crude exporter. Iran is criss-crossed by major faultlines and is frequently hit by earthquakes.


In 2008 a magnitude 6.1 quake struck the southern port of Bandar Abbas, killing at least seven people and injuring 40.


An official in the governor’s office of Kerman province told Reuters by telephone: “The quake-hit area is a deserted area.”


State television, quoting an unnamed local Red Crescent official, said: “In some rural parts of the region … the quake has caused heavy damage to buildings, especially in Hosseinabad village, where the houses were made of earthen bricks.”

Source: SGGP

Suicide bomber kills 33 at Iran procession

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

TEHRAN, Dec 15, 2010 (AFP) – A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shiite religious procession in the Iranian city of Chabahar on Wednesday, killing 33 people and wounding 83 in an attack claimed by Sunni rebel group Jundallah.


The United States and United Nations led international condemnation of the attack, which Iran said originated from a Jundallah (Army of God) base in neighbouring Pakistan.


Chabahar Prefect Ali Bateni said “33 people were killed and another 83 wounded” in what was the worst attack recorded against Shiite ceremonies.


The bomber struck in a central square as worshippers took part in a procession marking the eve of the last day of Ashura, Red Crescent official Mahmoud Mozafar told the ILNA news agency.


“An individual walked up to some Red Crescent ambulances and blew himself up.”


The governor of Sistan-Baluchestan province, Ali Mohammad Azad, said: “Two terrorists were killed, one in the explosion and the second by police.”


Bateni said a third “terrorist” was later arrested. An intelligence official said he was captured near the border with Pakistan while attempting to flee the country.


“There were two terrorists who were spotted before they carried out their attack but one of them managed to detonate his explosive vest,” Bateni told IRNA.


“The ringleader of this terrorist action has been arrested.”


Ashura is one of the high points of the Shiite calendar when large crowds of worshippers gather in mosques across predominantly Shiite Iran.


But unlike most of the rest of the country, Chabahar’s province of Sistan-Baluchestan has a significant Sunni community and has seen persistent unrest in recent years by Jundallah militants.


The group claimed the attack as revenge for the hanging of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi in June.


“This operation was a revenge for the hanging of the head of the movement Abdolmalek and other members of Jundallah,” the group said on its website junbish.blogspot.com.


“Tens of guards (members of the elite Revolutionary Guards) and mercenaries have been killed. The operation was carried out to expose the aggressors in Baluchestan.”


Jundallah, which says it is championing the rights of the province’s large Sunni ethnic Baluchi community, has claimed many deadly attacks on security forces over the past decade and assaults that have led to civilian deaths.


Iran has cracked down hard on the group.


In July, Jundallah claimed an attack on the Grand Mosque in the provincial capital Zahedan that targeted Revolutionary Guards and killed 28 people.


Last month, the United States officially designated Jundallah a foreign terrorist organisation. That drew a cautious welcome from Iran, which had previously accused Washington of supporting the group.


Iranian officials renewed the charge on Wednesday.


The head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Alaeddin Borujerdi, accused the “intelligence services of the United States and Britain” of being behind the attack, the ISNA news agency reported.


Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi said the “equipment used shows that they are terrorists supported by the intelligence services of the region and the US,” IRNA said.


For his part, Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said “a group of terrorists, trained and based on the other side of the border, in Pakistan, committed this attack.”


US President Barack Obama said in a statement: “I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack … The murder of innocent civilians in their place of worship during Ashura is a despicable offense.”


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack and extended condolences to the families of the victims.


“The United States condemns all forms of terrorism and sectarian-driven violence, wherever it occurs, and we stand with the victims of these abhorrent and reprehensible acts,” she said.


UN chief Ban Ki-moon was “shocked and dismayed” and strongly condemned the “abhorrent terrorist act,” his spokesman said.


British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said London “strongly condemns this atrocity,” while France’s foreign ministry said it shared Iran’s grief after it “was again plunged into mourning by particularly odious terrorism.”

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Source: SGGP

Iran offers new dates for nuclear talks

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 3:51 am

Iran begins fuelling Bushehr nuclear reactor

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Tuesday began fuelling the reactor core of its Russian-built nuclear power plant while saying the content, date and venue of new talks with the big powers on its atomic programme have yet to be agreed.


“Today, the plant is going through the sensitive phase of loading fuel in the core … We hope that the electricity produced by the Bushehr nuclear plant will be connected to the national grid in three months’ time,” state television reported atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran. AFP file

“Bushehr power plant is one of the world’s exceptional plants … I am optimistic about the future and, with the commissioning of this plant, we will witness the construction of other plants in different areas of our country.”


The transfer of fuel into the facility began on August 21 in a process that was described as the “physical launch” of the power plant by Russia, which took over construction of the complex in the mid 1990s.


Rich in both oil and gas, Iran says it needs the plant to meet a growing demand for electricity.


Tuesday’s announcement takes Iran a step closer to putting its first nuclear power plant on stream.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran should be allowed to have civilian nuclear power but renewed accusations that it was seeking atomic weapons.


“Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program,” Clinton said on the sidelines of a UN Security Council debate.


“Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr, our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program.”


Moscow has supplied 82 tonnes of fuel for Bushehr and also plans to reprocess the spent material.


Contractors from Germany’s Siemens began work on the Bushehr plant in the 1970s under the rule of the US-backed shah, but the project was shelved when the shah was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.


It was revived a decade later under current supreme leader Ali Khamenei and, in 1994, Russia agreed to complete its construction.


Tehran, at loggerheads with the West over its controversial nuclear drive, also said on Tuesday that the content, date and venue of mooted new talks with six major powers on its nuclear programme have yet to be finalised.


“We are hopeful that through exchange of views by both parties, we would come to an agreement regarding date, venue and more importantly content and agenda of this negotiation,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.


In remarks translated into English by Iran’s Press TV channel, Mottaki acknowledged that the “political will” for talks existed among both parties.


European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton proposed on Friday that the negotiations be held November 15-17 in Vienna.


Iran has always insisted that the talks be held on the basis of a package of proposals it gave the major powers before the last round of talks last October. The package does not explicitly talk of its atomic programme.


In a letter to Iran on Friday, Ashton insisted that the “main focus” of the talks be the “question of the Iranian nuclear programme,” which Western governments suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability, an ambition Tehran strongly denies.


Ashton represents six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in the negotiations with Iran.


Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have broadly welcomed fresh talks, but a spokesman for Ashton said on Friday she was still waiting for Tehran’s formal response.


Ahmadinejad and several lawmakers have laid down three conditions they say the major powers must answer during the negotiations.


Lawmakers say these were outlined to Ashton in a July letter by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.


He told Ashton the world powers must say whether the talks are aimed at “engagement and cooperation or continued confrontation and hostility towards Iranians.”


“Will you be committed to the logic of talks which calls for avoiding threats and pressure?” he asked, while also urging the six powers to state their “clear view” on the “Zionist regime’s nuclear arsenal.”


Israel, which has not ruled out taking military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s sole but undeclared nuclear arsenal.


Iran is under four sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

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Source: SGGP

Iran, Venezuela leaders seek ‘new world order’

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 7:52 am

The leaders of Iran and Venezuela hailed what they called their strong strategic relationship on Wednesday, saying they are united in efforts to establish a “new world order” that will eliminate Western dominance over global affairs.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and visiting Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, watched as officials from both countries signed 11 agreements promoting cooperation in areas including oil, natural gas, textiles, trade and public housing.


Among the agreements, Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA said the South American country was forming a joint shipping venture with Iran to aid in delivering Venezuelan crude oil to Europe and Asia. It said in a statement that the agreement for a joint venture also would help supply Iran “due to its limited refining capacity.”


Both presidents denounced U.S. “imperialism” and said their opponents will not be able to impede cooperation between Iran and Venezuela.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, shakes hands with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, during an official welcoming ceremony for him, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010.

Iran’s state TV quoted both Ahmadinejad and Chavez as calling their relationship a “strategic alliance” that would eliminate the current global order.


“Iran and Venezuela are united to establish a new world order based on humanity and justice,” Ahmadinejad said, repeating his predictions that those who today seek “world domination are on the verge of collapse.”


Chavez said this is a time of “great threats” that make its necessary to swiftly “consolidate strategic alliances in political, economic, technological, energy and social areas,” according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency.


Details of the latest accords were not released, and Chavez said some agreements went beyond those put on paper. He said a Venezuelan delegation will soon travel to Iran to follow up on the agreements.


Iran has become the closest Middle East ally to Chavez’s government as the left-leaning leader has sought to build international alliances to counter what he sees as U.S. economic and political dominance.


“Imperialism has entered a decisive phase of decline and … is headed, like elephants, to its graveyard,” Chavez said, according to the Venezuelan state news agency.


Chavez has staunchly defended Iran’s nuclear energy program, siding with Tehran by insisting it is for peaceful uses and not for nuclear bombs.


U.S. officials have worried Iran may be using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Four rounds of U.N. sanctions, as well as broader severe U.S. and European Union sanctions have not persuaded Tehran to halt the program.


Chavez also has plans to develop a nuclear energy program in Venezuela and last week signed an agreement for Russia to help build a reactor.


Without mentioning the countries’ nuclear ambitions, Chavez said his government demands respect for Iran’s sovereignty and that “those who think they are most powerful and want to impose their will on the world respect Iran.”


Chavez’s trip to Iran was his ninth as president. Before coming to Tehran, he made stops in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Later Wednesday, Chavez arrived in Syria, and is due to travel next to Libya and Portugal.


Iran and Venezuela both belong to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. In recent years, the two oil-producing countries have also set up joint ventures to produce cars, tractors and bicycles in the South American country.

Source: SGGP

Iran releases American held for 2 years in Tehran

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

 Iran on Saturday set free an American businessman jailed in Tehran for more than two years on suspicion on ties to an allegedly violent opposition group.


Reza Taghavi, 71, hadn’t been charged with a crime and denied knowingly supporting the organization, known as Tondar.


“He admitted to nothing and he continues to maintain his innocence,” his lawyer, Pierre Prosper, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Tehran after his client’s release from Tehran’s Evin prison. He’s not expected to return to Southern California before the middle of next week.


Iranian officials are “comfortable that he was in fact used by this organization, and comfortable that he does not pose a threat to them and that he can leave and go back to the United States,” Prosper said.


Iran had accused Taghavi of passing $200 in cash to an Iranian man tied to Tondar. Taghavi, who regularly visits Iran to conduct business and see family, had received the money from a friend in California with instructions to pass the cash to an Iranian, according to Prosper.


“I didn’t do anything wrong. Someone just asked me take this money to help someone,” Taghavi told ABC News.


“Sometimes I feel relief, sometimes, I feel angry. What happened? Two-and-a-half years for what?” he said.


His family had said he has diabetes and was in poor health, and his lawyer has asked Iran to free him on humanitarian grounds.


Prosper said Taghavi won’t able to leave until this coming week because of conditions attached to his release. While Taghavi never was charged formally or presented with paperwork indicating a charge, Prosper said there is a case within the Iranian justice system. He plans to meet with a judge in the next week in hopes of getting that case dismissed.


The best way to describe the situation, he said, is that the case is suspended and Taghavi is free to leave.


“We welcome the release of Reza Taghavi from detention in Evin Prison in Iran, and are pleased that he will soon be reunited with his family. We urge Iranian authorities to extend the same consideration to Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, and other detained Americans by resolving their cases without delay,” said State Department spokesman Noel Clay.


Fattal and Bauer are two American hikers jailed in Iran since they were arrested near the Iran-Iraq border in July 2009. The Iranians released Bauer’s fiancee, Sarah Shourd, a month ago.


Prosper said he and Taghavi will visit the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, site of an April 2008 bombing at a mosque that killed 14 people. Iranian authorities blame the group that Taghavi is suspected of being involved with, and told Taghavi to meet with victims of the attack.


“He feels aggrieved. He feels used” by his friend back home who provided the cash, Prosper said.


Prosper had five direct meetings with Iranian officials since Taghavi was jailed. Three were in Iran, one in New York and one in Europe.


A family representative, Ric Grenell, said Taghavi planned to hold a news conference upon his return to the United States.

Source: SGGP

Fidel Castro warns Obama against attacking Iran

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s 83-year-old revolutionary leader, called on the U.S. president to avoid military confrontation with Iran during his landmark speech in the Cuban parliament, reported RIA-Novosti.

Cuba revolutionary leader Fidel Castro takes part in the emergency seesion of the National Assembly of People Power in Havana on August 7, 2010.

Castro, who rarely appeared in public after the 2006 intestinal surgery, took part in his first government function in four years on Saturday.


Wearing a dark green military shirt he made a 90-minute appearance before the country’s National Assembly of People’s Power which convened for an emergency session on his request.


During his ten-minute speech, Castro reiterated that a military conflict between U.S. and Iran would result in a nuclear conflict and a presidential order to attack Iran would mean “instant death” for millions of people.


Castro said that two month ago he was sure that a war between the U.S. and Iran was imminent, but today he had “hope, and very strong” that the conflict can be avoided.


The Cuban leader, who has rarely been seen in public since ceding power to his younger brother in 2008, made a series of public appearances this summer.


In late July he gave a start to celebrations of the 57th anniversary of the Cuban revolution.


Fidel also released a CD of a collection of his articles from the CubaDebate website and released his new memoir recollecting the moments from 1958 when young revolutionaries liberated the island from Fulgencio Batista’s regime.


 

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Source: SGGP