Posts Tagged ‘nuclear programme’

Iran’s Parliament increases funding for missiles after U.S. sanctions — Lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”

August 13, 2017


© Atta Kenare, AFP | Members of Iran’s Armed Forces attend President Hassan Rouhani’s swearing-in ceremony in Tehran on August 5, 2017. Rouhani warned the US against tearing up the nuclear deal as he was inaugurated for a second term.


Latest update : 2017-08-13

Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to allocate $520 million to develop its missile programme to fight Washington’s “adventurism” and sanctions, and to boost the foreign operations of the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The Americans should know that this was our first action,” said speaker Ali Larijani, after announcing an overwhelming majority vote for a package “to confront terrorist and adventurist actions by the United States in the region”.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, out of the 244 parliamentarians present.

The vote came after fresh US sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran’s missile programme.

“The bill is backed by the foreign ministry and the government and is part of measures by the JCPOA supervision committee to confront the recent US Congress law,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi.

He was referring to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, known officially as the JCPOA, under which Iran agreed to strict limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

The bill mandates the government to allocate an additional $260 million for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to the Revolutionary Guards’s foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, state news agency IRNA said.

After Larijani announced the vote results, lawmakers shouted: “Death to America.”


Iranians Optimistic About Clinching Nuclear Agreement

March 17, 2015


U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran’s nuclear programme in Lausanne on Monday.

The Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — In an unusually upbeat assessment, Iran’s top nuclear official said Tuesday his government’s main disagreements with the U.S. and its negotiating partners have been resolved and expressed optimism about meeting a late March deadline for a framework deal.

Now in their second extension, the talks have made headway in recent weeks. The sides have moved closer on limitations on Iran’s nuclear activities that could be retooled to make weapons. In exchange, the West would progressively lift economic and political sanctions.

Still, the comments by Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akhbar Salehi were among the most promising to date. “The main issues have been closed,” he told Iranian state TV. “I hope that in the remaining time we can close this.”

The sides are working to meet two target dates — a framework in the next two weeks that lays down the outlines of a final deal by the end of June.

A senior U.S. official was less bullish, saying the sides had made progress but still had a ways to go in eliminating differences on what Tehran had to do for a gradual end to sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have taken the lead in what formally remain talks between Iran on one side and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany on the other.

Most of the disputes focus on technical issues like the numbers of centrifuges which Iran would be allowed to operate as part of an agreement. The machines can enrich uranium up to levels used for the fissile core of nuclear arms, but Iran says it only has energy, medical and scientific aims.

Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz joined the talks last month to try and iron out the technical differences.

Kerry and Zarif met for nearly five hours in the Swiss city of Lausanne Monday, before the Iranians departed for Brussels for talks with European negotiators.

There, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “we are entering a crucial time, a crucial two weeks.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after “more than 10 years of negotiations, we should seize this opportunity.” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said all sides were committed to trying.

A letter by Republican senators to the Iranian leadership warning that Congress could upend any deal cast a shadow on the negotiations. Another senior American official said the issue came up at Monday’s Kerry-Zarif meeting as well as a Sunday gathering among senior U.S. and Iranian negotiators.

Both American officials demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks on record.

Republicans argue a deal would be insufficient and unenforceable, allowing Iran to become a nuclear-armed state. To that end, they’ve delivered a series of proposals to undercut or block an agreement, including ones that would require a Senate say-so on a deal and order new sanctions against Iran while negotiations are underway.

Obama and other officials insist they’re not going to make any deal that would allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

The deal taking shape would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity for at least a decade, with the restrictions slowly lifted over several years.



Iran Nuclear Talks: Deal Is So Good For Everyone That Kerry and Zarif Rush Toward Completion

March 17, 2015


US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in the Swiss town of Lausanne, on March 16, 2015. Pool/AFP / by Nicolas Revise and Simon Sturdee


LAUSANNE (AFP) – US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart sought Tuesday to make progress in tortuous negotiations as the clock ticked down on reaching an elusive deal on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

A March 31 deadline loomed over Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif as they sat down for a second day of talks on Tuesday, trying to agree the outlines of a deal that would bury any prospect that Iran might develop atomic weapons.

They hope that such an accord, which is meant to be finalised by July, would end a decade-plus standoff over the issue, with the West fearing that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian programme, and Tehran denying the charge.

On Monday, after Kerry, Zarif and others met for almost five hours in the lakeside Swiss city of Lausanne, a senior US official involved said that it remained uncertain whether the deal can be clinched.

“Iran still needs to make some very tough and necessary choices to address the significant concerns that remain about its nuclear programme,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“We’re trying to get there. But quite frankly, we still do not know if we will be able to,” the official said, likening the months of negotiations to a “rollercoaster”.

After Monday’s meeting Zarif travelled to and from Brussels — while Kerry went for a bike ride — to meet European foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

– ‘Very bad deal’ –

Political directors from the other five powers involved — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — are expected in Lausanne in the coming days, some as early as Tuesday.

The six powers want Iran to scale down its nuclear activities in order to extend the time Tehran would in theory need to make enough nuclear material for a bomb.

Critics in the United States and in Iran’s arch foe Israel, widely assumed to have nuclear weapons itself, fear that the restrictions being proposed won’t go far enough.

In Washington a political storm is raging with 47 Republican senators last week writing to Iran’s leaders telling them that Congress could alter any deal and that a future president could tear it up.

US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is also fighting to stop the Republicans bringing new legislation that would force him to submit any deal to Congress for approval.

“Apparently the administration is on the cusp of entering into a very bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world that would allow them to continue to have their nuclear infrastructure,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN on Sunday.

Two deadlines to get a deal in July and November were missed but neither side, particularly the Obama administration, can afford to extend yet again.

What might emerge in Lausanne by the end of the month — or possibly this week — is unclear, but a “concrete understanding” is crucial, expert Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP.

The senior US official said that it remains unclear what form this “political framework”, assuming it can be done by the end of the month, will take.

“How detailed that will be and how — what form it will take is not yet decided because we aren’t there,” she said.

– Complex deal –

Officials on both sides say that some progress has been made in what would be a highly complex agreement, but that crucial gaps remain.

These include the scale of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacities — which can make nuclear fuel but also the core of a bomb — the accord’s duration and pace at which sanctions on Iran would be lifted.

“We need clarity on the way in which sanctions will be lifted and what the guarantees will be for applying the deal,” Zarif said Sunday.

“There have been advances but there are still important points which have not been resolved and we will see if we can move forward,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday.

by Nicolas Revise and Simon Sturdee

Iran’s ‘nuclear bomb-maker’ shifts operations

October 8, 2014

Iran seeks to protect secret nuclear programme by shifting headquarters to new site

David Cameron with Hassan Rouhani in New York last Wednesday (Reuters)

Iran has shifted the location of its underground programme to produce a nuclear warhead to a site opposite a Tehran hospital as signs emerge of a new covert sabotage campaign against some of its most secret facilities.

The move has been completed since the imposition of sanctions on the body Organisation of Defensive Innovation and Research by the US Treasury in August, according to the Iranian opposition group, National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Its work was previously carried out at a military facility on the Parchin base in the Tehran suburbs that Tehran has repeatedly refused to open up to international inspectors. That site was the location of a mysterious explosion last week that reportedly shook windows up to 16 miles away.

The explosion revived security concerns in Iran that foreign countries had revived a covert campaign to disrupt Iran’s underground nuclear work. Five scientists were killed at the peak of a previous sabotage campaign between 2010 and 2012.

The overhaul of operations at the key research body in charge of advanced technology necessary to manufacture a nuclear bomb has been orchestrated by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a powerful behind the scenes figure subject to US and UN sanctions. The opposition report yesterday said his organisation’s main headquarters was now working from a building opposite the Chamran Hospital more than a mile away from its previous location at Parchin.

In an effort to provide additional protection to its leader, Fakhrizadeh was working from a separate office more than a block away. It added that “non-sensitive” sections of the group remain at the old site.

Despite the impasse between the West and Iran over the secret weapons programme, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said yesterday that he would meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and Catherine Ashton, the EU representative, to secure agreement in nuclear talks in Vienna next week. The negotiations have reached a key phase as the deadline for the suspension of some sanctions on Iran expires in late Novermber.

Observers believe Western officials are prepared to secure a deal even though Iran has been unable to fully account for key parts of its programme and has protected Fakrizadeh from scrutiny.

“For a deal to work there has to be an approach that it doesn’t matter what Iran has done in the past or what might have been done or what its still doing but that its all about the future and taking them at their word that they can accept limits, inspections and a monitoring regime,” said Simon Henderson, a Gulf expert at the Washington Institute think tank. “President Obama seems to want to deal with Iran because he believes there are greater dangers in the Middle East to be dealt with.”

Iran’s opposition has a mixed record of identifying secret regime facilities but it did name the Fakhirazeh organisation before it existence was confirmed by the UN nuclear agency report in 2011.

The US added it to the sanctions list in late August after Iran missed a UN deadline to account for secret nuclear bomb research at the end of August.

The notice said it “is primarily responsible for research in the field of nuclear weapons development” and Fakhrizadeh, a commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was “managing activities useful in the development of a nuclear explosive device”.


Iran defends refusal to let in U.N. nuclear expert

October 8, 2014

VIENNA Wed Oct 8, 2014 11:03am EDT

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani smiles while replying to a question during a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 26, 2014.   REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani smiles while replying to a question during a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York September 26, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

(Reuters) – Iran has dismissed criticism by the International Atomic Energy Agency of its refusal earlier this year to let one IAEA expert into the country as part of a team investigating allegations of nuclear weapons research.

Tehran said it had a sovereign right to decide who to admit onto its territory. But its failure to issue a visa to an IAEA official, who diplomatic sources said was probably a Western atomic bomb expert, may deepen longstanding Western suspicions that it is stonewalling the U.N. agency’s inquiry.

The IAEA said last month that Iran had not issued a visa for one member of a team that visited Tehran on Aug. 31 to try to advance the investigation into what the U.N. agency calls the possible military dimensions of the country’s nuclear programme.

It was the third time the person, whom the U.N. agency did not identify, had been unable to obtain an entry permit. It was unclear whether this official had received one to join an IAEA delegation holding talks in the Iranian capital this week.

It is important, the IAEA said in a Sept. 5 report on Iran’s nuclear programme, that “any staff member identified by the agency with the requisite expertise is able to participate in the agency’s technical activities”.

But, in a statement distributed to IAEA member states this week, Iran said that granting visas was “our sovereign national right and we will issue it when we deem it appropriate”.

The IAEA has for years been trying to get to the bottom of allegations that Iran has worked on designing a nuclear bomb.

Iran says its nuclear activity is a peaceful, but suspicions in the West that the civil nuclear programme is a front for weapons development have led to punishing economic sanctions, which Tehran hopes will be lifted if ongoing negotiations with world powers succeed in ending the standoff.

IAEA member states have the right to deny access to individual inspectors proposed by the U.N. agency, and Iran has for several years blocked staff from some Western nations, including the United States, to check its nuclear sites.

A separate, high-level IAEA team in charge of the Iran inquiry – which at least on some occasions has included officials from France, the United States and Britain – has held several meetings in Tehran since early 2012, including one this week.

Iran said it had provided visas on time to three new members of the IAEA team in recent months.


Western officials say Iran needs to cooperate with the IAEA inquiry if it wants to reach a breakthrough diplomatic settlement with world powers.

Last month’s IAEA report said Iran had failed to answer questions about possible military dimensions of its nuclear program by an agreed Aug. 25 deadline, in a possible setback for the farther-reaching diplomacy between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

Iran rejects the accusations as baseless. But it has promised, since relative pragmatist Hassan Rouhani was elected president last year on a platform to end its international isolation, to work with the IAEA to clear up the suspicions.

“We continue to cooperate with the IAEA on some of the ambiguities in order to clarify and resolve them,” said the Iranian communique to IAEA member countries, which was dated Sept. 19 but only posted on the IAEA’s website this week.

While the powers seek to limit the size of Iran’s future nuclear program – and thereby extend the time it would need for any attempt to accumulate fissile material for a weapon – the IAEA is investigating purported research and experiments in the past that could be applied to making the bomb itself.

Underlining a determination to press ahead with efforts to modernise its nuclear capacity, an area of concern for the United States and its allies, Iran’s statement said it had installed a new, advanced centrifuge, the IR-8, last year in a research and development wing of its Natanz enrichment plant. Centrifuges refine uranium, a nuclear fuel which can have both civilian and military applications.

It said the IR-8 was a “complete new centrifuge” and criticised the IAEA for calling it a “casing” in its reports. If Iran were to successfully replace its current, breakdown-prone IR-1 model, it could amass potential bomb material much faster.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)


Iran Says It Shot Down Israeli Drone Probing Iranian Nuclear Site

August 24, 2014

(Reuters) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have shot down a radar-evading Israeli spy drone that was trying to penetrate Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment site, state news agency ISNA said on Sunday, quoting the Revolutionary Guards.

“The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limit nuclear area in Natanz… but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area,” ISNA said, citing a statement by the Revolutionary Guards.

Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran.

Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran.

The Israeli military said it did not comment on foreign reports.

Israel and the West suspect Iran of planning to build a nuclear bomb. Iran has in the past often accused its Western and Israeli foes of trying to sabotage its nuclear programme, which Tehran says is peaceful.

(Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Reporting by Mehrdad Balali; Editing by Andrew Roche; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Roche)

An Israeli 'Ethan' drone, in the service of the Israel Air Force (Illustrative photo, credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

An Israeli ‘Ethan’ drone, in the service of the Israel Air Force (Illustrative photo, credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Read more: Israel world’s largest exporter of drones, report says | The Times of Israel
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

The Iranian nuclear power plant of Natanz, south of Tehran on March 30, 2005 (AFP Photo/Henghameh Fahimi)

Ahmadinejad: Iran Unleashes 5,000 New Nuclear Centrifuges

July 31, 2013
Iran to Start Operating 5,000 New Centrifuges, Says Ahmadinejad - Reuters

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Iranian nuclear facility in this file photo – Reuters

Iran’s outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said 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.

“12,000 centrifuge machines are now running in our nuclear sites and 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operation,” the hardline president told the country’s IRIB1 TV.

The development has come despite Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), expressing concern over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

The IAEA said in June that Tehran was violating international regulations by increasing the number of centrifuges.

The West fears Iran is making steady progress towards nuclear weapons while the  country insists its uranium enrichment was only for peaceful purposes.

Meanwhile, a US thinktank has noted 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,” says the ISIS in its July report.

Urging the IAEA to conduct inspections at the facilities more frequently, the report said: “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 report adds that “by themselves these measures are not sufficient if Iran reaches critical capability”.

The American body, citing images of Iran’s nuclear sites obtained from commercial satellites, had earlier 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 facility, experiments of enriching uranium through laser isotope separation have been conducted in the past. However, IAEA officials, who probed the facility, say laser is used for civilian purposes.

Ahmadinejad, while speaking elsewhere, also noted that the country had achieved the technology to enrich uranium to higher purity levels through lasers.



To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail: To contact the editor, e-mail: