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Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

Ayatollah’s Advisor: ‘Iran-Egypt Unity will Form Core of a Great Islamic Power’

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The Mehr news agency reports that Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, has said that Iran and Egypt are the major countries of the Muslim world, so their unity will form the core of a great Islamic power in today’s world.

Velayati made the remarks during a meeting with a number of Egyptian media and cultural intellectuals in Tehran on Tuesday.

He also said that certain figures, whose interests are in division among Muslims, are opposed to the establishment of relations between Tehran and Cairo.

Following Istanbul Love-In, Iran Declares It Has No Intention of Halting 20% Uranium Enrichment

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, has said that Tehran does not intend to stop producing uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent.

According to the Mehr news agency, Jalili, who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, made the remarks during a press conference in Istanbul on Saturday, after two rounds of talks between representatives of Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany, after a 15-month break in the talks.

The UN Security Council has demanded the suspension of enrichment, both to 20 and 3.5 percent levels. Iran has enough enriched uranium for around four bombs if the material is refined further to about 90-percent purity, according to Western sources..

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represented the group of six nations in the nuclear negotiations and Jalili headed the Iranian delegation.

The two sides agreed to meet again in Baghdad on May 23, and Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general for political affairs of the European External Action Service, and Ali Baqeri, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, will be drawing up an agenda for the Baghdad talks.

According to Reuters, Jalili made it clear at the press conference that Iran has no intention to halt operations at its plants that enrich uranium to contain 20 percent fissile material.

Referring to Iran’s rights, which have been stipulated in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Jalili said, “Enrichment of uranium is one of these rights that every individual member state should benefit from and enjoy for peaceful purposes.”

The main bone of contention between Tehran and the West is Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

Iran says all its nuclear activities are totally peaceful, and, as an International Atomic Energy Agency member and a signatory to the NPT, it has the legal right to produce nuclear fuel for its research reactors and nuclear power plants.

Commenting on the talks, Jalili stated, “We witnessed progress. There were differences of opinion… But the points we agreed on were important.”

Jalili also said, “The next talks should be based on confidence-building measures, which would build the confidence of Iranians.”

The continuation of the talks and their success depend on the adoption of the “approach of dialogue” rather than other approaches, he stated.

He also mentioned the fatwa (religious edict) that Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has issued declaring that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are all haram (prohibited in Islam).

Jalili noted that the Leader’s fatwa has “created an opportunity for concrete steps toward disarmament and non-proliferation.”

Regarding the fatwa, see “Asharq Al-Awsat’s Editor to Hillary: Don’t Be Fooled by Iranian ‘Anti-Nuke’ Fatwas.”

‘Good Vibes’ in Istanbul Meeting over Iranian Nukes, But No Bilateral Iran-US Talks

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

UPDATE: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a news conference after a day of talks that there will be a meeting with the Iranian delegation again in Baghdad on May 23.

“We want now to move to a sustained process of dialogue,” Ashton said, adding, “The discussion on the Iranian nuclear issue has been constructive and useful. We want now to move to a sustained process of serious dialogue, where we can take urgent, practical steps to build confidence.”

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According to the Iranian news agency Mehr, European Union foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann said on Saturday that the meeting between Iran and the six major powers had been “positive” and “totally different” than the last meeting.

Tehran and the group of 6 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) met in Istanbul on Saturday, ending a 15-month hiatus in talks.

“There is a positive atmosphere… contrasting with the last time,” Mann stated after a two-and-a-half-hour morning session, adding that “the principles for future talks seem to be there.”

An afternoon session on Saturday involved a number of bilateral meetings, but the Iranian delegation rejected the US representatives’ request for a bilateral meeting.

“Their request was presented numerous times, but Iran has refused,” a source close to the Islamic Republic’s team told AFP.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represented the major powers in the nuclear negotiations with Tehran, and the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, headed the Iranian delegation.

“I hope what we will see today is the beginnings of a sustained process,” Ashton said in a statement. “What we are here to do is to find ways in which we can build confidence between us and ways in which we can demonstrate that Iran is moving away from a nuclear weapons program.”

“What was discussed in the talks today was an emphasis on our nation’s nuclear rights based on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Tehran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters after two rounds of talks.

According to the Fars news agency, when he was asked about the pivots of the future round of talks in Baghdad next month, Jalili said the meeting would center on “first nuclear disarmament, second the theory of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Leader, which is a clear view and can serve as a major approach towards nuclear disarmament, third preventing proliferation of the nuclear weapons which is amongst major issues of cooperation and fourth peaceful use of the nuclear technology as a given and indispensible right of the NPT member states”.

He also said that in addition to two rounds of multilateral talks with representatives of the six world powers, “we only had bilateral talks with our Russian friends”.

Sources close to the Iranian negotiators told Press TV that it was too early to describe the talks as positive and said that the viewpoints of all sides needed to be heard before passing any judgment.

Despite their rejection of bilateral talks with the Americans, diplomats told AFP that Iran’s positive attitude in Istanbul raised the prospects for a second round of more in-depth discussions, and one envoy said the meetings should be held some time in the next four weeks.

AP also quoted diplomats close to the talks as saying that the nuclear negotiators for Iran and the six world powers were making encouraging progress in bridging their differences.

The Istanbul talks are unlikely to yield a major breakthrough, according to Reuters, but Western diplomats hope to see readiness from Tehran to start to discuss “issues of substance.”

When that happens, it would mark a big change in Iran’s attitude from the last meeting, when it wouldn’t even discuss its nuclear program. There is hope for a second round of talks next month, possibly in Baghdad.

If talks continue, this could influence Israel’s decision regarding a military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites, to prevent Iran from manufacturing nuclear arms.

Defying Boycott, Iran, India, Trade to Reach $100 Billion over Four Years

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

If you were looking for clues as to how Iran could stand up to global pressure over its nuclear program, perhaps this bit of news serves as an explanation: the semi-official Mehr news agency reports that Tehran and New Delhi have announced that they are planning to hit $25 billion in annual bilateral trade over the next four years. An 80-member Indian trade delegation is visiting Iran.

An Indian official said the current annual trade between the two countries was around $15 billion, the IRNA news agency reported.

The delegation was in the country to explore commercial opportunities created by the EU and U.S. sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

The two countries, which have long-standing historic ties, hope to settle around 45 percent of their oil trade in rupees by increasing exports.

5.1 Magnitude Earthquake in Iran

Monday, February 27th, 2012

The United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program reported Monday evening a Magnitude 5.1 earthquake in Central Iran, 82 miles North Northwest of Kerman, Iran, and 423 miles South East of Tehran.

Iran Blocks Access to Nuke Facilities, IAEA Leaves

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

According to news agencies, after two days of talks on Iran’s nuclear program, UN nuclear experts have left Tehran without reaching a deal, adding to growing tensions after an Iranian general warned of a pre-emptive strike against any nation that threatens Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said that Iran had barred its inspectors from visiting a key military site in Parchin, which it suspects could have been the site of high-explosives tests related to nuclear weapons. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano expressed his disappointment at the development. “We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached,” he said. The high-level team of inspectors left Tehran late on Tuesday.

Obama’s Meeting with Netanyahu a Last Ditch Effort to Halt Allied Attack on Iran

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The March 5 meeting in Washington between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be the final attempt on the part of the US to bring Israel around to its position on the global efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

President Obama’s National Security Adviser Tom Donilon concluded three days of talks with the Prime Minister and other Israeli leaders in Jerusalem Monday, in the midst of a brewing Israeli push for a military end to Iran’s nuclear plans. Donilon conducted a caustic, 2-hour conversation with Netanyahu, in which the two disagreed radically on the ways to deal with Iran’s progress in enriching uranium and the relocation of its nuclear production to underground sites.

Monday’s statement from the White House said that Donilon and the U.S. delegation discussed “the full range” of mutual security concerns, and that the visit was “part of the continuous and intensive dialogue between the United States and Israel and reflects our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”

Donilon was only the latest American official to meet with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, coming on the heels Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey’s January visit to Israel. Dempsey said on CNN Sunday that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be “destabilizing,” and that such a move would not be “prudent at this point.”

According to sources in Israel, Netanyahu bitterly reproached the Obama administration for essentially assuring Iran that it could continue to enrich uranium, as long as it promised not to build a nuclear weapon. In Netanyahu’s view, this was a substantial deviation from the US administration’s previous assurances to Israel, as Tehran is now free to upgrade its uranium enrichment level to weapons grade. Israel will not tolerate this change, stated the enraged Netanyahu, suggesting he will seriously consider the military option.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote this month that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.”

But the US is apparently convinced that this option will simply not work. In his interview on CNN, Gen. Dempsey said Israel only has the capability to strike Iran and delay the Iranians “probably for a couple of years. But some of the targets are probably beyond their reach.”

Meanwhile, a high-ranking delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tehran early Monday morning. The delegation, headed by Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA deputy director general and the head of the IAEA Department of Safeguards, has come to Tehran to “help resolve disputes over Iran’s nuclear activities.”

The talks in Tehran follow an announcement Sunday by Iran’s oil ministry that it was halting crude exports to French and British companies, an order following a threat that Iran would cut oil exports to some European Union countries in retaliation for sanctions put in place last month by the EU and the United States.

“Iran has no difficulty in selling and exporting its crude oil. … We have our own customers and have designated alternatives for our oil sales. We shall sell to new customers, who will replace French and UK companies,” ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbar said in a statement.

But Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Monday he expected relations with Europe to improve. The two sides need each other, he said, adding, “I believe that relations will return to their earlier state.”

General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia and First Deputy Minister of Defense, said last week that “Iran is a sore spot, I think a decision will be made by the summer.”

Russia is adamantly opposed to any military action against Iran, although it supported UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran.

According to Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times, Israel is not the only factor. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are also “obsessed with the need to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons.” Also, Barack Obama may still be very keen to avoid conflict, but in a presidential election year, it is harder for him to rein in Israel. Rachman suggests Britain and France – the two most important European military powers – are also seriously contemplating the prospect of conflict with Iran. Indeed, in marked contrast to the run-up to the Iraq war, the British and the French seem to be more bellicose than the Americans.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/obamas-meeting-with-netanyahu-a-last-ditch-effort-to-halt-allied-attack-on-iran/2012/02/21/

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