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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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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

Oy Vey! Iran Begins Installing Advanced Centrifuges For Uranium Enrichment.


The coming nuclear showdown

(Reuters) – Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.

iran-installs-advanced-centrifuges-nuclear-reactors-israel

You know how US President Obama is always telling people that “Iran must never become nuclear”? Ha, ha…good one!

In a confidential report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said 180 so-called IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings had been put in place at the facility near the central town of Natanz. They were not yet operating.

If launched successfully, such machines could enable Iran to speed up significantly its accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to devise a nuclear weapon. Iran says it is refining uranium only for peaceful energy purposes.

Iran’s installation of new-generation centrifuges would be “yet another provocative step,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

White House spokesman Jay Carney warned Iran that it would face further pressure and isolation if it fails to address international concerns about its nuclear program in the February 26 talks with world powers in the Kazakh city of Almaty.

Britain’s Foreign Office said the IAEA’s finding was of “serious concern”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the report “proves that Iran continues to advance swiftly towards the red line” that he laid down last year.

Netanyahu, who has strongly hinted at possible military action if sanctions and diplomacy fail to halt Iran’s nuclear drive, told the U.N. in September that Iran should not have enough higher-enriched uranium to make even a single warhead.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop a capability to make atomic bombs. Tehran says it is Israel’s assumed nuclear arsenal that threatens peace.

The IAEA’s report showed “no evidence of diversion of material and nuclear activities towards military purposes,” Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Iranian media.

U.S. lawmakers meanwhile are crafting a bill designed to stop the European Central Bank from handling business from the Iranian government, a U.S. congressional aide said on Thursday, in an attempt to keep Tehran from using euros to develop its nuclear program.

In the early stages of drafting, it would target the ECB’s cross-border payment system and impose U.S. economic penalties on entities that use the European Central Bank to do business with Iran’s government, the aide said on condition of anonymity.

The aide disclosed the new push for sanctions ahead of fresh talks on Tuesday in which major powers hope to persuade the Iranian government to rein in its atomic activities, which the West suspects may be a cover to develop a bomb capability.

RISING WESTERN PRESSURE

It was not clear how many of the new centrifuges Iran aims to install at Natanz, which is designed for tens of thousands. An IAEA note informing member states late last month about Iran’s plans implied that it could be up to 3,000 or so.

Iran has for years been trying to develop centrifuges more efficient than the erratic 1970s IR-1 model it now uses, but their introduction for full-scale production has been dogged by delays and technical hurdles, experts and diplomats say.

The deployment of the new centrifuges underlines Iran’s continued refusal to bow to Western pressure to curb its nuclear program, and may further complicate efforts to resolve the dispute diplomatically, without a spiral into Middle East war.

Iran has also started testing two new centrifuge types, the IR-6 and IR-6s, at a research and development facility, the IAEA report said. Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to increase the ratio of the fissile isotope in uranium.

In a more encouraging sign for the powers, however, the IAEA report said Iran in December resumed converting some of its uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent to oxide powder for the production of reactor fuel.

That helped restrain the growth of Iran’s higher-grade uranium stockpile since the previous report in November, a development that could buy more time for diplomacy.

The report said Iran had increased to 167 kg (367 pounds) its stockpile of 20 percent uranium – a level it says it needs to make fuel for a Tehran research reactor but which also takes it much closer to weapons-grade material if processed further.

NEW OFFER TO IRAN

One diplomat familiar with the report said this represented a rise of about 18-19 kg since November, a notable slowdown from the previous three-month period when the stockpile jumped by nearly 50 percent after Iran halted conversion.

Israel last year gave a rough deadline of mid-2013 as the date by which Tehran could have enough higher-grade uranium to produce a single atomic bomb if processed further. Experts say about 240-250 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium would be needed.

But a resumption of conversion, experts say, means the Israeli “red line” for action could be postponed. Refined uranium can fuel nuclear energy plants, which is Iran’s stated aim, or provide the core of an atomic bomb, which the United States and Israel suspect may be its ultimate goal.

Next week’s talks between the six powers and Iran to try again to break the impasse in the decade-old dispute are their first since mid-2012 but analysts expect no real progress toward defusing suspicions that Iran is seeking atomic bomb capability.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany want Iran to halt 20 percent enrichment and shut the Fordow underground plant where this takes place. Iran wants them to recognize what it regards as its right to refine uranium for peaceful purpose and to relax increasingly strict sanctions battering its oil-dependent economy.

In Paris, French deputy foreign ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said the powers were ready to make a new offer to Iran with “significant new elements” and that they hoped Tehran would engage seriously in the negotiations. source – Reuters

by NTEB News Desk

Iran says it is converting uranium, easing bomb fears.


DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran acknowledged on Tuesday that it was converting some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, a move that could help to prevent a dispute with the West over itsnuclear program hitting a crisis in mid-2013.

Conversion is one way for Iran to slow the growth in its stockpile of material that could be used to make a bomb. That stockpile is currently projected to reach a level intolerable to Israel in mid-year, just as Iran’s room for negotiation is being limited by a presidential election in June.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was asked at a weekly news conference about a Reuters report that Iran has converted small amounts of its 20-percent enriched uranium into reactor fuel.

“This work is being done and all its reports have been sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a complete manner,” he was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

It was Iran’s first acknowledgment that it had apparently resumed converting into fuel small amounts of uranium enriched to a concentration of 20 percent fissile material.

Iran’s production of that higher-grade uranium worries the major powers because it is only a short technical step away from the 90-percent purity needed for a weapon.

On-off negotiations with the major powers and four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions have failed to persuade Iran to stop its enrichment activities, and the IAEA has been refused full access to investigate other suspect elements of the nuclear program.

Iran denies that it is seeking a weapon and says its nuclear program serves only peaceful purposes such as electricity and the production of medical isotopes.

CRITICAL MASS

But Israel, widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East, has indicated that Iran’s stockpile will reach a level in June at which it considers it must attack to stop Iran acquiring enough fissile material for a bomb. With a presidential election taking place that month,Tehran‘s room to make concessions to foreign powers is limited.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the Middle East next month, exhorted Iran to reach a diplomatic agreement and stressed his determination to prevent it from obtaining an atomic bomb.

“The leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon,” Obama said in his annual State of the Union speech to Congress.

Iran averted a potential crisis last year by converting some 100 kg of its 20-percent enriched uranium into fuel, suggesting to some that it was carefully keeping below the threshold set by Israel, while still advancing its nuclear technology.

It is not believed to have enriched uranium beyond 20 percent. A fuller picture is unlikely until a new IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear activity, due by late February.

Separately, officials from the IAEA are due to hold talks in Tehran on Wednesday in the hope of restarting their long-stalled inquiry into Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.N. agency, whose mission is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, has been trying for a year to negotiate a so-called structured approach with Iran that would give its inspectors access to sites, officials and documents.

The IAEA especially wants access to the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran where it believes explosives tests relevant for nuclear weapons development may have taken place and been subsequently concealed, allegations that Iran denies.

“READY FOR DEAL”

Mehmanparast said Iran was ready to come to a “comprehensive agreement” with the IAEA if Tehran’s nuclear rights were recognized. Part of this agreement could include a visit to Parchin, he said.

But Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, on Tuesday criticised the IAEA’s handling of documents related to Iran, signaling the continued mistrust between the agency and Tehran.

“Unfortunately their system is not sufficiently secure,” Abbasi-Davani said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA). “They need to be more careful in their interactions with Iran.”

Last year Abbasi-Davani accused the U.N. agency of a “cynical approach” and mismanagement, and said “terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded” into the agency.

Iran and six world powers, known as the P5+1, are due to hold a new round of talks on the nuclear program in Kazakhstan on February 26.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that the powers were ready to respond if Iran came to the talks prepared to discuss “real substance”.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, visiting Moscow, said Iran was “counting on there being positive and constructive steps made to resolve this problem at the upcoming meeting”.

In Tehran, Salehi’s spokesman Mehmanparast responded to news that North Korea had conducted its third nuclear test in defiance of existing United Nations resolutions by saying: “We need to come to a point where no country will have any nuclear weapons.”

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Yeganeh Torbati | Reuters

Kuwait urges Iran to address worries on nuclear plant.


 

RELATED CONTENT

MANAMA (Reuters) – Kuwait urged neighboring Iran on Monday to cooperate more with the U.N. nuclear watchdog to allay Gulf Arab concerns about the safety of an Iranian nuclear power plantthat lies just across the waterway from the emirate.

The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, said a recent shutdown at the Bushehr plant indicated Tehran had to work with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy (IAEA) to ensure the safety of the facility near the coastal town of Bushehr.

He was speaking in Bahrain at the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a grouping of six oil-exporting Gulf Arab countries at odds with Tehran over a series of issues and who see the Islamic Republic as a rival for regional influence.

Bushehr, a Russian-built symbol of what Iran calls its peaceful nuclear ambitions, was shut down in October to limit any damage after stray bolts were found beneath its fuel cells, a Russian nuclear industry source said in November.

The explanation for the procedure at the 1,000-megawatt plant contradicted assurances by Iran that nothing unexpected had happened and that removing nuclear fuel from the plant was part of a normal procedure.

Sheikh Sabah said: “The news that was reported recently about the technical failure that hit the Bushehr reactor confirms what we mentioned about the importance of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA, and committing to its criteria and rule, to ensure the safety of the region’s states and its people from any effect of radioactivity.”

LONG-STANDING DISPUTE

Iran is the only country with an operating nuclear power plant that is not part of the 75-nation Convention on Nuclear Safety, which was negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

Although the West suspects the Islamic Republic of trying to develop the means to build nuclear arms – a charge it denies – Bushehr is not considered a major proliferation risk by Western states, whose fears are focused on sites where Iran has defied global pressure by enriching uranium beyond levels needed to fuel civilian atomic power plants.

Nevertheless Western officials voiced concern in November about what they described as an unexpected unloading of fuel at Bushehr and said Tehran, which has dismissed it as a normal step, must clarify the issue.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA said in November that Tehran was determined to make sure safety at Bushehr was guaranteed after the plant is turned over to Iranian operators.

The plant, whose start-up has been delayed for years, was finally plugged into Iran’s national grid in September 2011, a move intended to end protracted delays in its construction. The plant’s Russian builder was quoted in October as saying Bushehr would be formally “handed over for use” to Iran in March 2013.

Sheikh Sabah also appealed to Iran to resolve separate long-standing disputes with GCC members, who comprise Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait.

“We renew our calls to our brothers in Iran to respond to our invitations to put an end to pending issues between the GCC countries and Iran … through direct negotiations or by resorting to international arbitration,” he said.

Bahrain has repeatedly accused Tehran of meddling in its internal politics. Saudi Arabia has complained about alleged border breaches by Iran, and the UAE has a long-standing dispute with the Shi’ite Muslim power over three Gulf islands. Iran denies seeking subvert Bahrain or any other Gulf Arab state, and says its intentions in the region are purely peaceful.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Asma Alsharif | Reuters

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