Posts Tagged 'Salehi'

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Brazil reduces involvement in Iranian nuclear negotiations”

In an interview, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim states that Brazil will no longer be proactively engaged in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, saying Brazil “got [its] fingers burned” over the Tehran Declaration. Brazil argues that its deal with Iran met conditions outlined in a letter from President Barack Obama (Financial Times).
The Economist criticizes President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s “Tehran adventure” as a naive move that has only served to raise tensions with the US (Economist). However, in an extensive overview of the nuclear fuel swap deal, Mark Fitzpatrick argues that the deal could be beneficial if Iran were to export its LEU and stop enriching to 20% (Survival).

“Iran responds to sanctions with more uranium enrichment”
Iran has denied visas to two members of a larger IAEA inspection team, while IAEO head Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that Iran has produced 17 kg of 20% enriched uranium and is capable of producing 5 kg per month. An ISIS analysis suggests that Salehi’s recent announcement of plans to build 4 new research reactors is unrealistic and may be an effort to create a pretext for continuing production of 20% enriched uranium (ISIS).
Tony Karon argues that Iran is outmanuevering the West by creating new bargaining chips of its own in response to international pressure and sanctions (The National). Robert Haddick writes that Iran, having studied how Iraq resisted UN pressure over WMDs for over a decade, will likely continue a strategy of dodging inspections and creating strategic uncertainty (Foreign Policy).

“Iran-Israel rhetoric raises concerns over escalation”
Scott Peterson examines the risk of escalating rhetoric between Israel and Iran leading to war (Christian Science Monitor). Earlier this week, Israel launched a new military spy satellite, increasing its number of spy satellites to four (Al Jazeera).

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“IAEA report could undermine fuel swap deal”

ISIS provides a close analysis of the IAEA’s latest Iran report, which describes increased LEU production and advanced centrifuge development and calls for Iranian cooperation to resolve outstanding issues (ISIS). Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi disputed the report’s findings that Iran was engaging in pyroprocessing (a process that can be used to purify uranium metal for nuclear warheads) and had removed relevant equipment (AFP).
The IAEA’s finding that Iran has over 2,400 kg of LEU could weaken support for the nuclear fuel swap deal, which would require Iran to export only 1,200 kg (Today’s Zaman).

“Leaked letter suggests US open to nuclear fuel swap deal”
In a leaked letter to Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, US President Obama criticizes Iran for undermining confidence-building efforts but offers a “potentionally important compromise” that closely resembles the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, leading some analysts to criticize Washington’s cold reaction to the deal (Politico).
Turkey and Brazil are continuing to push the Vienna Group to accept the nuclear fuel swap deal (Reuters), and a group of prominent US analysts and former diplomats at the National Iranian American Council urged Western powers to accept the fuel swap deal (NIAC).

“Sanctions drive weakened by Israel flotilla raid, fuel swap deal”
Barbara Slavin writes that Israel’s raid of a flotilla of aid ships is complicating US efforts toward UN sanctions against Iran (IPS). Gareth Porter adds that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil fuel swap deal is creating division among UNSC members over strong sanctions (IPS). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the resolution excludes “paralyzing sanctions” and takes Russian and Chinese economic inerests into account (AFP).
Howard LaFranchi writes that the latest IAEA report could bolster sanctions efforts (Christian Science Monitor).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Iran unveils new centrifuges; US predicts bomb capacity in 2-5 years”
Iran’s new third-generation centrifuges have six times the separation capacity of previous centrifuges and can handle higher quantities of uranium, according to AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi (Press TV). ISIS provides an outline of available information and key remaining questions on the new centrifuges (ISIS).
US military officials testified to the senate that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade fuel for at least one bomb in 1 year and manufacture a workable nuclear bomb in 2 to 5 years, though there is no evidence that Iran’s leaders have decided to do so (New York Times).

“Turkey, Brazil step up efforts during US nuclear security summit”
At the sidelines of the US Nuclear Security Summit, the heads of state of Turkey and Brazil urged US President Obama to pursue an Iran strategy based on diplomacy rather than sanctions. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is visiting Brazil ahead of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s visit to Tehran next month (Today’s Zaman). Davutoglu stated that the nuclear fuel swap deal could still be revived (Reuters).

Iran: US using ‘nuclear blackmail’ (CBS News)
Iranian leaders are criticizing the US for indicating that nuclear weapons could be used against Iran. CBS News provides a copy of Iran’s letter to UN leaders accusing the US of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” with its new Nuclear Posture Review and comments made by top US officials.

“Parliament blocks full subsidy cuts, limits own regulatory authority”
President Ahmadinejad has agreed to facilitate the Iranian parliament’s decision to cut subsidies by $20 million. Ahmadinejad had previously been pushing for a $40-million cut to subsidies on gasoline and other basic goods (Press TV).
In a separate decision, the parliament delegated the role of regulating the powerful Guardian Council, Assembly of Experts, Supreme National Council and Expediency Council to the Supreme Council of Revising Laws. Nazila Fathi describes the move as another step demonstrating the power of officials appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei over elected representatives (New York Times).

“China remains cautious on sanctions”
Despite headlines (1, 2) suggesting that China is now supporting sanctions against Iran, Chinese officials have agreed only to participate in discussions while maintaining that sanctions will not resolve the nuclear issue. The US has offered China support to secure alternative energy suppliers (Agence France-Presse). The P5+1 held their third meeting on sanctions on Thursday, emphasizing a “dual-track” strategy of diplomatic engagement and pressure through sanctions (Associated Press).

Iran reaches out to Saudi Arabia (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Asharq Al-Awsat reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is reaching out to Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal to discuss regional issues, possibly including Iran’s nuclear program.

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Pipeline deal with Pakistan part of Iran’s strong push in gas sector”
Iran signed an agreement with Pakistan for a $7.6-billion pipeline connecting the South Pars gas field with Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces (Reuters). Last week, Iran’s Bank Mellat issued a first installment of 1 billion Eurobonds to fund development of the South Pars gas field, and officials announced Iran would spend $1.6 billion on development projects in the gas sector this year (Daily Star).

“Angarsk nuclear fuel bank initiative moving ahead”
The IAEA is moving toward creating an international nuclear fuel bank for the UAE and other emerging nuclear states with 120 tons of LEU from Russia (The National). Russian officials have announced their intention to provide the first batch of LEU by the end of 2010 (RIA Novosti), and India stated its interest in participating as a donor country (RIA Novosti (2)).
Developing nations have opposed fuel bank initiatives in the past, citing concern over their rights to independently develop the nuclear fuel cycle.

“China expanding oil options beyond Iran”
Vivienne Walt writes that a drop in Chinese oil imports from Iran from 500,000 bbl. per day to 250,000 bbl. per day between January 2009 and January 2010 indicates Beijing is looking for alternative sources of oil (Time).
During a visit by British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi indicated that China remained opposed to sanctions (Reuters).

“Iran offers nuclear fuel exchange” (The National)
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, announced that Iran is prepared to accept a single exchange of 1,200 kg of its LEU for nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. The exchange, however, would be on Iranian soil, a condition that Western powers have previously rejected.

“AQ Khan documents claim Pakistan directly involved in Iran’s nuclear program”
The Washington Post reports on an 11-page document written by nuclear scientist AQ Khan detailing Pakistan’s role in providing nuclear know-how and centrifuge parts (Washington Post).
Simon Henderson, the source of the documents, wrote about his relationship with Khan last year (The Times). ISIS has criticized Khan’s information as “self-serving” and inaccurate (ISIS).

“Status, feasibility of Iran’s uranium enrichment claims unclear”

“Status, feasibility of Iran’s uranium enrichment claims unclear”
February 5-9, 2010
     Iran’s new efforts to produce 20% enriched uranium at its Natanz plant may accelerate Western efforts to impose additional sanctions, French and British officials expressed doubt about Tehran’s ability to enrich the uranium and produce the fuel rods needed for the Tehran Research Reactor (Al Jazeera). ISIS concludes that Tehran has the necessary technical capability but will need time to overcome significant challenges, including a lack of experience with the fuel fabrication process. ISIS warns that if Tehran enriches its entire LEU stockpile, it could produce enough weapon-grade material for a “breakout scenario” in 6 months using a small facility that could elude international detection (ISIS).
     Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO), said the enrichment would be halted if the fuel swap deal were implemented (Associated Press), but at the Munich Security Conference, foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki insisted that Tehran should be able to determine the quantity of LEU involved (New York Times). Tehran announced that the enrichment would be monitored by IAEA inspectors, but the agency said its inspectors at Natanz were not examining the new enrichment claims (UPI) and IAEA head Yukiya Amano expressed “concern” over Tehran’s decision (Reuters).
     In December, IAEO vice president Mohammad Ghannadi said Iranian efforts to produce the fuel domestically would face technical problems and would “never make it on time to help our patients”.
Al Jazeera | ISIS | Associated Press | New York Times | UPI | Reuters

“IAEA report validates evidence of military studies, urges Iran to cooperate”

“IAEA report validates evidence of military studies, urges Iran to cooperate”
August 28-31, 2009
     In its latest report on Iran, the IAEA describes evidence of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program as sufficiently consistent and comprehensive to merit requiring more information from Iran. The report calls for more information regarding studies of high explosives and missile re-entry vehicles, both of which could be used for nuclear military purposes, and a confidential letter on the Green Salt Project [a military program that could link the Revolutionary Guards to the nuclear program]. Although the IAEA “continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material”, Iran has yet to implement Code 3.1 [which requires the early provision of design information on new nuclear facilities] or suspend enrichment- and heavy water-related activities as required by the UNSC. The IAEA urges Iran to provide cooperation and implement its Additional Protocol and also writes that the refusal of [Western] states to share more evidence is complicating its verification efforts (IAEA).
     The ISIS writes that while the number of active centrifuges has decreased from 4,920 in June to 4,592, the increased number of total centrifuges (now 8,308) is significant as filling them with uranium is a “relatively minor step”. The ISIS notes that at Iran’s current LEU production rate, Iran will have enough LEU to enrich and produce weapons-grade uranium for 2 nuclear weapons by the end of February 2010 (ISIS). Yossi Melman writes that an unidentified explosives expert mentioned in the IAEA report as having visited Iran is a Russian national (Haaretz).
     Iran’s IAEA ambassador Ali Asqar Soltanieh told local media that the report proves that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful (Fars News Agency), and Ali Akbar Salehi, the new head of Iran’s nuclear agency, stressed that Iran is cooperating with IAEA inspectors and argued that referring the Iranian nuclear file to the UN would be “illegal” and lacking in legal foundation (Agence France-Presse). However, the Iranian daily Tabnak stated that the IAEA report was negative and infringed on Iran’s sovereignty (MEMRI). Israel’s Foreign Ministry has stated that while the report is “harsh”, it does “not reflect all the information possessed by the IAEA” (Jerusalem Post).
IAEA | ISIS | Haaretz | Fars News Agency | Agence France-Presse | MEMRI | Jerusalem Post

“Concessions, positive signals from Iran ahead of IAEA report”

“Concessions, positive signals from Iran ahead of IAEA report”
August 20-24, 2009
     Iran has allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water reactor, lifting a year-long ban, and agreed to expand monitoring of the Natanz uranium enrichment site ahead of the IAEA’s upcoming Iran report. However, one Western official argues that Iran “always” makes concessions to the IAEA ahead of critical reports in order to avoid punitive action (Guardian). Reza Derakhshi reports that Western diplomats are skeptical of Iran’s latest concessions (Reuters), and a US official has stated that Iran “is still not in compliance with its IAEA obligations” (Reuters (2)).
     Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to retain the “soft-spoken” and “levelheaded” Manouchehr Mottaki as foreign minister has been welcomed by Western diplomats as a sign that Tehran will not harden its stance on the nuclear issue. Ahmad Bakhshayesh argues that Ahmadinejad is seeking continuity in foreign policy amid domestic instability (Los Angeles Times). Michael Slackman also cites the appointment of Ali Akbar Salehi as head of Iran’s nuclear agency [previously covered here] as another sign that Ahmadinejad may be willing to enter international talks on the nuclear issue. Some analysts cautiously speculate that Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei may be hoping to improve the economy by avoiding sanctions and regain credibility by resolving the nuclear issue, although political infighting in Tehran could limit the possibility of any such progress (New York Times).
Guardian | Reuters | Reuters (2) | Los Angeles Times | New York Times