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Posts tagged ‘IAEA’

US Begins Easing Economic Sanctions on Iran.


The United States will begin easing economic sanctions on Iran after the latter began shutting down its most sensitive nuclear work on Monday, the White House said.

Iran’s move was part of a landmark deal struck late last year with the United States, five other world powers and the European Union, to ease concerns over Tehran’s nuclear program and provide for the partial removal of some of the economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The U.N. nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed Monday that higher-level uranium enrichment at a facility in central Iran had stopped, an important step among others that together provided officials with the evidence needed to conclude that Iran was holding up its end of the agreement.

The White House, which has vowed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, hailed Iran’s actions as “an important step forward.”

“These actions represent the first time in nearly a decade that Iran has verifiably enacted measures to halt progress on its nuclear program and roll it back in key respects,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “Iran has also begun to provide the IAEA with increased transparency into the Iranian nuclear program, through more frequent and intrusive inspections and the expanded provision of information to the IAEA. Taken together, these concrete actions represent an important step forward.”

The European Union announced earlier Monday that it, too, was suspending some of the sanctions it has imposed on Iran.

Carney said the five other world powers — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China — also would begin providing relief to Iran.

At the same time, Carney said the group will continue its aggressive enforcement of sanctions that will remain in effect during the next six months, the period that Iran and the world powers will use to negotiate a final deal.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Iran Nuclear Deal to Take Effect on Jan. 20.


Iran’s interim nuclear deal with six major powers will come into force on Jan. 20, the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the European Union said on Sunday.

“Capitals have confirmed the result of the talks in Geneva . . . the Geneva deal will be implemented from January 20,” Marzieh Afkham, spokeswoman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Tehran, the semi-official Mehr news agency said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also confirmed the date, and said the sides would now ask the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog to verify the deal’s implementation.

“We will ask the IAEA to undertake the necessary nuclear-related monitoring and verification activities,” she said in a statement.

Ashton represents the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany – in contacts with Iran related to its controversial nuclear programme.

Senior officials from the European Union and Iran met in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to iron out remaining practical questions related to the implementation of the Nov. 24 deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its most sensitive nuclear work in return for some relief from Western economic sanctions.

EU spokesman Michael Mann said on Friday that any agreements would need to be validated by the governments of Iran and the six powers.

The accord is designed to last six months and the parties hope to use the time to negotiate a final, broad settlement governing the scope of Iran’s nuclear program.

Western powers suspect Iran has been trying to develop the ability to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Iran says its program is aimed purely at civilian electricity generation and other civilian purposes.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Israel Accuses Iran of Deception to Buy Time for Nuclear Work.


VIENNA —  Israel accused Iran Wednesday of using “deception and concealment” to buy time for its nuclear program, signaling skepticism about the new Iranian president‘s move away from the hardline stance of his predecessor.

Israel, believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power, also said an Arab push to single it out for criticism at a U.N. nuclear agency meeting this week would deal a “serious blow” to any attempt to hold regional security talks.

The election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as Iranian president has raised hopes of progress in long-stalled efforts to find a solution to the decade-old dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

An Iranian official said he saw an “opening” in Iran’s nuclear row with the West, in the latest signal that Tehran expects fresh movement to break the deadlock.

But the head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission said: “The picture that the Iranian representatives are portraying regarding openness and transparency of their nuclear program … stands in sharp contradiction with Iran’s actual actions and the facts on the ground.”

“The issue was not whether Iran has “modified its diplomatic vocabulary . . . but whether it is addressing seriously and in a timely manner outstanding issues that have remained unresolved for too long,” Shaul Chorev told the annual meeting of member states of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability and maintain a threat of possible military action if diplomacy fails.

Iran says its program is entirely peaceful and says it is Israel’s assumed atomic weaponry that threatens peace.

The IAEA’s latest report on Iran said it had further expanded its uranium enrichment capacity by installing many more centrifuges. Uranium can have both civilian and military uses.

Chorev accused Iran of “deception and concealment, creating a false impression about the status of its engagement with the agency . . . with a view to buy more time in Iran’s daily inching forward in every aspect of its nuclear military program.”

Chorev accused Arab states of using the IAEA meeting to “repeatedly bash” Israel and he urged members to reject an Arab-sponsored draft resolution calling on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons pact.

Frustrated over the postponement of an international conference on ridding the region of nuclear  arms, Arab states have proposed a non-binding resolution expressing concern about “Israeli nuclear capabilities“.

U.S. and Israeli officials have said a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East could not be a reality until there was broad Arab-Israeli peace and Iran scaled back its nuclear work.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

IAEA: Iran Boosts Advanced Uranium Enrichment Capacity.


Image: IAEA: Iran Boosts Advanced Uranium Enrichment Capacity

Iran‘s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

VIENNA — Iran has installed about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges and is set to test them, a U.N. nuclear report showed, a development likely to worry Western powers hoping for a change of course under the country’s new president.The International Atomic Energy Agency‘s (IAEA’s) quarterly report — the first since relative moderate Hassan Rouhani won Iran’s June presidential election — also said the Islamic state had started making fuel assemblies for a reactor which the West fears could yield nuclear bomb material. Iran denies any such aim.

On the other hand, Iran’s most sensitive nuclear stockpile has grown little —remaining below its arch-enemy Israel’s stated “red line” that could provoke military action — since the previous IAEA report in May. Iran’s possible restraint here could buy time for more negotiations with six world powers.

The report showed Iran continuing to press ahead with its disputed nuclear program at a time when the outside world is waiting to see if Rouhani will increase transparency and reduce confrontation in Iran’s foreign policy, as he has pledged.

However, envoys accredited to the IAEA had cautioned against reading too much into the latest inspectors’ report as it mainly covered developments before Rouhani took office on Aug. 3, replacing the conservative hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran says its nuclear energy program is for electricity generation and medical uses only. It has rejected Western accusations that it trying to develop the capability to produce nuclear bombs, despite having hidden sensitive activities from U.N. non-proliferation inspectors in the past.

Obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, the IAEA report said Iran had fully installed a total of 1,008 new-generation centrifuges at the underground Natanz complex and was planning to test their performance ahead of feeding them with uranium material.

Iran, it said, had further completed preparatory work for installing about 2,000 other advanced centrifuges, which experts say could boost the rate of refinement by two- or three-fold.

The report also said Iran had begun making nuclear fuel for its planned Arak heavy-water research reactor but had postponed its commissioning beyond the planned first quarter of 2014.

That delay could come as a relief to Western leaders as they are concerned the Arak complex could offer Iran a second path to weapons-grade fissile material by churning out plutonium.

Iran denies any such intention, saying the Arak facility is to produce isotopes for agriculture and medicine.

Israel has threatened to attack Iran if diplomacy fails to rein in its program and it amasses enough medium-enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon, if processed further.

But the election of Rouhani, who served as chief nuclear negotiator under Ahmadinejad’s reformist predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, has raised cautious Western hopes of breaking the prolonged, increasingly volatile deadlock in the negotiations.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Ahmadinejad: Iran to Start Operating 5,000 New Centrifuges.


Image: Ahmadinejad: Iran to Start Operating 5,000 New Centrifuges

By Joel Himelfarb

According to outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operating at the country’s nuclear facilities. These are in addition to the 12,000 centrifuges already in operation, he told Iran’s IRIBI Television.
The Iranian statement follows concerns expressed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
The IAEA said in June that Tehran was violating international regulations by increasing the number of centrifuges.
While the West fears Iran is making steady progress towards nuclear weapons, Tehran insists its uranium enrichment is only for peaceful purposes.
Meanwhile, the International Business Times reports that a U.S. think tank stated that Iran may be able to achieve weapons-grade uranium by mid-2014.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said Iran could achieve this by installing thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.
“Iran could have time to make enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons,” ISIS said in a July report.
The ISIS said the IAEA should inspect the facilities more frequently, stating: “IAEA inaction or caution could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons.”
The ISIS report adds that “by themselves these measures are not sufficient if Iran reaches critical capability.”
Citing images of Iranian nuclear sites obtained from commercial satellites, the group has said Tehran was trying to hide the links between its Lashkar Ab’ad nuclear facility and firms involved in laser technology.
At the Lashkar Ab’ad site, experiments that involved enriching uranium through laser isotope separation have been conducted in the past. However, IAEA officials, who probed the facility, say lasers are used for civilian purposes.
Ahmadinejad has stated that Iran has developed the technology to enrich uranium to higher purity levels through lasers.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

UN Nuclear Chief: Iran Talks ‘Going Round in Circles’.


VIENNA — The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday talks with Iran have been “going around in circles” — unusually blunt criticism pointing to rising tension over suspected nuclear arms research by Tehran that has increased fears of a new Middle East war.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, vented growing frustration at the lack of results in getting Iran to address suspicions of military dimensions to its atomic energy program. Tehran denies the accusations.

In hard-hitting comments to the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, he also said Iranian advances in building a heavy-water research reactor and in its uranium enrichment work were in “clear contravention” of U.N. Security Council resolutions, dating to 2006, calling for a suspension in such activities.

The IAEA has been trying since early 2012 to engage with the Islamic state over what the Vienna-based U.N. agency calls the “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear program.

But ten rounds of negotiations in the last 17 months have failed to achieve any breakthrough. Western diplomats accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA, an allegation Tehran rejects.

“Despite the intensified dialogue between the agency and Iran since January 2012 . . . no agreement has been reached on the structured approach document. To be frank, for some time now we have been going around in circles,” said Amano.

“This is not the right way to address issues of such great importance to the international community, including Iran,” he said, according to a copy of his speech to the closed-door board meeting at the IAEA’s headquarters.

Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed state, sees Iran’s declared civil nuclear program as the most serious risk to its security and has threatened military action if diplomacy and sanctions fail to make Tehran hold back.

Amano said: “We need to achieve concrete results without further delay to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.”

The IAEA has “solid grounds for requesting clarification in relation to possible military dimensions”, he added.

Amano spoke at a time of apparent deadlock in a broader diplomatic initiative by six world powers to find a peaceful solution to the decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Western diplomats say they are awaiting the outcome of Iran’s June 14 presidential election but do not anticipate any notable shift in the country’s nuclear defiance.

IRANIAN NUCLEAR ADVANCES

Iran, a big oil producer now under harsh Western sanctions against its lifeblood export sector, says its nuclear program aims to meet the electricity needs of a rapidly growing population and advance some areas of scientific research.

But its refusal to suspend nuclear activity with both civilian and potential military applications in defiance of U.N. Security Council demands, and its lack of full openness with the IAEA, have fueled suspicions abroad about its ultimate goals.

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” Amano said.

Therefore the IAEA could not conclude that all of Iran’s nuclear material was devoted to wholly peaceful activities.

Western and Israeli worries about Iran are focused largely on its uranium enrichment work, as such material refined to a high level can provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

But diplomats and experts say a heavy water research reactor being built near the town of Arak could give Iran an alternative ingredient — plutonium — for nuclear bombs, if it were to decide to build such weapons of mass destruction.

An IAEA report issued to member states last month showed the Islamic Republic pressing ahead with the construction of Arak, including the delivery to the site of the reactor vessel.

Such a plant could yield plutonium for the core of a nuclear bomb if the spent fuel were reprocessed, something Iran says it has no intention of doing.

“Iran continues to advance its heavy water-related projects,” Amano said. The lack of updated design information about the plant “is having an increasingly impact on our ability to . . . implement an effective safeguards approach,” he said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

UN Report: Iran Rapidly Expanding Nuclear-Weapon Technology.


VIENNA — The U.N. atomic agency Wednesday detailed rapid Iranian progress in two programs that the West fears are geared toward making nuclear weapons, saying Tehran has upgraded its uranium enrichment facilities and advanced in building a plutonium-producing reactor.

In a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran had installed close to 700 high-tech centrifuges used for uranium enrichment, which can produce the core of nuclear weapons. It also said Tehran had added hundreds of older-generation machines at its main enrichment site to bring the total number to more than 13,000.

Iran denies that either its enrichment program or the reactor will be used to make nuclear arms. Most international concern has focused on its enrichment, because it is further advanced than the reactor and already has the capacity to enrich to weapons-grade uranium.

But the IAEA devoted more space to the reactor Wednesday than it has in previous reports.

While its language was technical, a senior diplomat who closely follows the IAEA’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities said that reflected increased international concerns about the potential proliferation dangers it represents as a completion date approaches.

He demanded anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss confidential IAEA information.

The report also touched upon a more than six-year stalemate in agency efforts to probe suspicions Tehran may have worked on nuclear weapons. It said that — barring Iran’s cooperation — it may not be able to resolve questions about “possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

At Parcin, a military site where Iran is suspected of testing blasts to set off a nuclear charge, Iran has started paving over the area where the alleged experiments took place, the agency said, referring to satellite photos of the site. It was the latest detail in a series of moves the agency suspects were made to cover up evidence.

The United States, Israel, and Iran’s other critics say the reactor at Arak, in central Iran, will be able to produce plutonium for several bombs a year once it starts up. They have said Tehran’s plan to put it on line late next year is too optimistic.

But the report said the Islamic republic had told IAEA experts that it was holding to that timeline.

The IAEA noted that much work needed to be done at the reactor site, but it said Iranian technicians there already had taken delivery of a huge reactor vessel to contain the facility’s fuel. It also detailed progress in Tehran’s plans to test the fuel.

Installations of the new IR-2m centrifuges are also of concern for nations fearing that Iran may want to make nuclear arms, because they are believed to be able to enrich two to five times faster than Tehran’s old machines.

The IAEA first reported initial installations in February. It said then that agency inspectors counted 180 of the advanced IR-2m centrifuges at Natanz, Tehran’s main enrichment site, less than a month after Iran’s Jan. 23 announcement that it would start mounting them.

Diplomats said none of the machines appeared to be operating and some may only be partially set up. But the rapid pace of installations indicates that Iran possesses the technology and materials to mass-produce the centrifuges and make its enrichment program much more potent.

Iranian nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi said earlier this year that more than 3,000 high-tech centrifuges have already been produced and will soon phase out its older-generation enriching machines at Natanz, south of Tehran.

The report also noted Iran’s decision to keep its stockpile of uranium enriched to a level just a technical step away from weapons-grade to below the amount needed for a bomb.

More than six years of international negotiations have failed to persuade Tehran to stop enrichment and mothball the Arak reactor.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell characterized the report as marking “an unfortunate milestone with regard to Iran’s illicit nuclear activities,” noting the IAEA first reported concerns about Iran’s nuclear program 10 years ago.

But Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA, described the allegations against Iran as “forged and fabricated.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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