Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ahmadinejad Opens Iran’s First Nuclear Fuel Plant

By Ladane Nasseri and Jonathan Tirone

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated Iran's first nuclear fuel plant a day after he insisted that the Persian Gulf country doesn't aim to develop atomic weapons.

Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon at the facility in the central province of Isfahan during a ceremony marking National Nuclear Technology Day, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said.

The formal opening of the Isfahan plant indicates that the country is pushing ahead with its nuclear research reactor in Arak, which the United Nations Security Council has demanded stopped. Uranium pellets like the ones produced in Isfahan will feed the Arak reactor after its completion, producing plutonium as a by-product. Plutonium can be used to make atomic bombs.

The Obama administration said yesterday it plans to join China, Russia and European allies in talks with Iran on the country's nuclear program, marking a shift in U.S. policy. Former President George W. Bush made U.S. participation in such talks conditional on Iran suspending its nuclear work. The U.S. and several major allies have said the Iranian program is cover for weapons development.

Ahmadinejad said yesterday he would welcome a genuine overture from President Barack Obama, while underlining Iran's stance that its nuclear work is peaceful and intended to generate electricity. "Our stance is clear: Iran is a proponent of talks if based on justice, respect and rules," Ahmadinejad said today in a speech today to mark the fuel plant's inauguration.

World Powers' Offer

Earlier today, the president's media adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, said the offer by world powers to hold talks with Iran on its nuclear drive is "constructive," Agence France- Presse reported.

"We hope that this proposal means a change of approach to a more realistic attitude," he said, adding that Iran will "examine" the offer and give a response.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said Feb. 19 that Iran had already begun producing uranium pellets and fuel rods. IAEA inspectors haven't had access to the Arak facility, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Tehran, since August, after Iran denied investigators access to plant.

Iran has 7,000 centrifuges operating at its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz in central Iran, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization, said today on state television. Centrifuges are fast-spinning machines that enrich nuclear fuel by separating uranium isotopes. Iran aims to have 50,000 centrifuges in the next five years.

New Centrifuge Types

Iran has tested two new types of centrifuges with "capacity several times higher" than that of previous models, Ahmadinejad said today.

The IAEA said Feb. 19 that Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium increased by about 60 percent since the IAEA's last report, in November, giving the country around 1,010 kilograms (2,227 pounds) of the material.

London's Verification Research Training and Information Center estimates that 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium could yield 15 to 22 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium, enough for the production of a device under the supervision of an expert bomb-maker.

Since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, the government in Tehran has consistently rejected United Nations Security Council demands to halt its enrichment activities, with international sanctions imposed as a result.

Ahmadinejad has portrayed developments in Iran's nuclear program as a matter of pride and a symbol of its autonomy from Western countries. He routinely accuses the west of pressuring it to cut short the country's technological advancement and force it into submission and dependence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Tehran at; Jonathan Tirone at

Last Updated: April 9, 2009 12:14 EDT

Obama is going to have to deal with terrorism - Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

This is the voice of someone who understands the Middle East. Not a "Zionist" either. The Obama administration would do well to heed it.
Electing Obama is Not Enough!
Thursday 09 April 2009
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

In a speech last week US President told his audience that there were those that thought that electing "Barack Hussein Obama" was enough to solve the country's problems. Obama himself must have thought at one moment or another that things would actually get easier the more distance that he puts between himself and his predecessor George Bush, but he has seen with his own eyes that things are becoming more difficult.

Less than twenty-four hours had passed after Obama made a statement warning that terrorists would target Europe when there was an attack in New York, followed by a Taliban statement claiming responsibility. To Obama's good fortune the perpetrator [of the shooting spree in New York] was Vietnamese, and had personal motives for the attack, otherwise the Presidential honeymoon may have come to an end, and Obama would have been accused of being complacent on the threat of terrorism.

The problem is real and not a psychological one and evidence of this can be seen in that Obama has done many good things without seeing a result. He began his presidency by ordering the release of Muslim detainees from Guantanamo Bay and banned the military trials [of detainees], he made his first televised address as President to the Muslims, sent a message of reconciliation to Iran, and pledged to withdraw from Iraq sooner than George W. Bush had planned to. At the same time his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, announced that there no longer exists any such term as "war on terror" in US foreign policy. Yet despite all of this, violence has increased.

The vicious cycle of violence continues with regards the Taliban and Al Qaeda, indeed the Taliban have stepped up their operations in spite of the public message from Washington on the possibility of reconciliation. Secret messages and media references have not succeeded [in bring the Taliban to the table], and this issue is one that requires caution for it is likely that the Taliban are no different than Al Qaeda. Evidence of this can be seen in the principles of the Taliban which have not changed from forcibly preventing girls from receiving an education, and burning down their schools and murdering their teachers, not to mention banning music.

The Taliban agenda is one of local governing, unlike that of Al Qaeda, the international organization which has benefited from the modest ambitions of its ally the Taliban, and which has attempted to infiltrate the entire world and destroy it.

I expect that Obama will return to the notorious Bush ethos, for he will have no other choice in the fight against Al Qaeda, confronting Iran, and confining North Korea.

I repeat that he will not find another option because these parties – despite all that Obama has achieved since coming to power – will not ever change their stance. For every step forward that Obama has taken his opponents have challenged him saying that he has done so without receiving anything in return.
Tehran has announced - via more than one official - that by electing Obama Washington has acknowledged its weakness in the face of Iran. Even the Taliban, who were not concerned with foreign affairs, have begun to undertake activities outside of the tribal areas.
Finally, in his speeches Obama has begun to mention something that Bush repeated, namely the three dangers; a nuclear Iran, the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, and North Korea. Obama will find that there is no escape from a return to widespread confrontation, politically, economically, and militarily.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Plot to assassinate Obama foiled in Turkey

A few seconds that could have changed the world....

Plot to assassinate Obama foiled in Turkey

April 6, 2009

By Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- U.S. officials have taken "very seriously" a plot to assassinate President Barack Obama involving a Syrian man who was arrested late last week in Turkey, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

But the officials strongly cautioned that American presidents are frequent targets of threats that are all watched very carefully, and in this case the alleged plotter did not appear to get anywhere close to Obama during his European tour.

The officials also noted that while Obama gets more threats than usual as the first African-American U.S. president, this particular threat did not force any change to his schedule.

"Life goes on," said one of the officials familiar with the matter, who suggested the threat may be getting more attention because there has been a heavy international focus on Obama's first overseas trip since taking office.

White House officials declined to comment on the matter, citing a policy of not talking about security and threats around the president. U.S. Secret Service officials spoke only briefly about the case.

"We work closely with the host country whenever there is an arrest, which we are doing in this matter," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said.

The plot was first reported by the Saudi Arabian newspaper al-Watan, which revealed that Turkish security services arrested a man of Syrian origins Friday in connection with a plan to kill Obama during his visit to Turkey. Obama was in Strasbourg, France, on Friday for a NATO summit and did not arrive in Turkey for the final leg of his trip until Sunday.

The Saudi paper reported the suspect, who was carrying an Al-Jazeera TV press credential in the name of "M.G.," confessed to authorities after his arrest that he and three alleged accomplices plotted to stab Obama with a knife during the Alliance of Civilizations Summit in Istanbul, which Obama attended on Monday evening. The U.S. officials confirmed those allegations, but stressed to CNN that the information provided by the man is still being verified.

Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Ankara, Turkey, Yucef al-Sharif, told the newspaper his news organization knew nothing about the man and suggested he may have obtained a forged press credential. According to U.S. officials, it's unclear whether the man, a permanent resident of Istanbul, had obtained a real press credential.

On Sunday, U.S. and international journalists covering Obama's trip did face more extensive searches of their baggage than usual by the U.S. Secret Service before boarding a press charter flight from the Prague, Czech Republic, region to Ankara. The same extensive searches were conducted Monday before a flight from Ankara to Istanbul.

But U.S. officials downplayed the possibility the more extensive searches were done out of concern that plotters may have infiltrated the media. Instead, the officials suggested that since Turkish security officials had not necessarily handled such a large crush of media before, U.S. Secret Service officials simply wanted to go the extra mile in their searches.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Obama: Changing policy toward Israel will not appease Al-Qaeda

Quite a few people have the impression that Al-Qaeda is going to get a free ride from the Obama administration. Others are insisting that if only the United States did not support Israel, it would not be an al-Qaeda target. And yet others are insisting that the Obama administration has decided to abandon Israel in order to appease extremists. None of that seems to be true. According to the CNN Transcript of a student question and answer period in Strasbourg, President Barack Obama said:
...And I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I'm now president and George Bush is no longer president, al Qaeda is still a threat, and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected president, suddenly, everything is going to be OK.

It is going to be a very difficult challenge. Al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is-- al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is, you know, don't fool yourselves because some people say, well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to Israeli/Palestinian conflict or if we were more respectful towards the Muslim world, suddenly, these organizations would stop threatening us.

That's just not the case. It is true that we have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect and changing our language and changing our tone. It is true that we have to work very hard for Israeli/Palestinian peace.

But what is also true is that these organizations are willing to kill innocent people because of a twisted distorted ideology and we, as democracies and as people who value human life, can't allow those organizations to operate.
That's what he said