Thursday, October 29, 2009

Report: Iran proposes "big changes" to draft atom deal

Who is surprised by this? Perhaps President Obama and BBC listeners and readers, since the latter heard and read that Iran welcomed the agreement and would sign it. As expected, Iran will propose "changes." The changes will be big enough to prevent a meaningful agreement. They will not be big enough to prove that Iran is trying to wreck the agrement. So the negotiations will go on, and on and on, and the centrifuges will keep spinning and spinning, and the earth moving equipment will keep hollowing out mountains for more nuclear installations like the one near Qom. Then one day, Iran will have the bomb, and everyone can innocently say, "<g> who expected that?" Right?
Iran proposes big changes to draft atom deal: report
Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:09pm EDT
By Reza Derakhshi
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran proposed changes to a U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel deal on Thursday, Iranian media said, making demands that appeared to challenge the basis of the agreement with the United States, France and Russia.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had requested a reply by last Friday, said its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, had now received an "initial response" from Tehran.
"(ElBaradei) is engaged in consultations with the government of Iran as well as all relevant parties, with the hope that agreement on his proposal can be reached soon," the IAEA said in a statement. It gave no further details.
The Iranian pro-government daily Javan said in an unsourced report that Iran wanted shipments of low-enriched uranium (LEU) -- for conversion abroad into fuel for a Tehran research reactor -- to take place in stages, not in a single consignment.
It also wanted simultaneous imports of higher-enriched fuel from other countries for the same plant.
The conditions were likely non-starters for Western powers, which suspect the Islamic Republic covertly seeks nuclear arms capability. Tehran says its program is only for electricity.
"If the Iranian position is as described, it gets the IAEA nowhere," a western diplomat in Vienna said. "They are undercutting Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seeking to help them demonstrate the peaceful intent of their nuclear program."
Under ElBaradei's plan, Tehran would transfer about 75 percent of its known 1.5 tons of LEU in one shipment to Russia by the end of this year for further enrichment. The material would then go to France to be converted into fuel plates.
These would be returned to Tehran to power the U.S.-built reactor, which produces radio-isotopes for cancer treatment.
The U.S. role would be to upgrade safety and instrumentation at the plant, Iranian officials said.
France reacted cautiously to the reports of Tehran's latest position, saying it wanted to see Iran "respond clearly and positively to the proposal submitted by the IAEA, which is fully supported by France, the United States and Russia."
Western powers were likely to rebuff Tehran's proposed amendments because their priority is to reduce the stockpile of Iranian LEU to ward off the danger that Iran might turn it into the highly enriched uranium needed for an atom bomb.
Sending most of the LEU abroad would buy about a year for talks on forging a long-term solution to the nuclear dispute, in which Western powers want Iran to halt enrichment in return for economic incentives.
Iran's request for nuclear fuel imports is problematic because U.N. sanctions ban trade in such materials with Tehran.
Western diplomats said Iran risks rekindling demands for harsher sanctions unless it acts on the fuel plan and other nuclear transparency measures before the end of the year.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that his country would not retreat "one iota" on its right to a nuclear program and suggested it was gaining ground in the dispute.
"They (the West) used to tell us to halt everything (nuclear activities), but today they have announced their readiness to cooperate with us in fuel exchange and technology," he said in a speech in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Thursday.
"We welcome cooperation on nuclear fuel, power plants and technology and we are ready to cooperate," he added, without saying whether Iran would accept the IAEA proposal or not.
But Iran's English-language satellite station PRESS TV quoted an unnamed source as saying that Iran did not trust other countries involved, such as the United States and France.
"Iran needs to receive guarantees that the nuclear fuel for Tehran's research reactor will in fact be supplied," it quoted the source as saying. "Iran as the buyer of the nuclear fuel should determine how much fuel it requires to purchase."
The draft fuel deal emerged from talks that followed an October 1 meeting in Geneva, where Iran also told six big powers it would open a newly disclosed enrichment site to U.N. inspectors.
Four senior IAEA inspectors returned to Vienna on Thursday after a first visit to the site, which Iran expects to start operating at the end of 2010. The team chief said it "had a good trip" but would not elaborate. Details are likely to come in the IAEA's next quarterly report on Iran, in mid-November.
The inspectors wanted full access and documentation to verify that the plant, being built beneath a mountain, was designed to enrich uranium only to the low purity needed for electricity, not the high level suitable for bombs.

Iran will turn down western proposal

Iran's offer to compromise is, "We will take what you offer, but we won't give up anything." Not much of a compromise. They are hell-bent on building a bomb.
Iran will not retreat "one iota" on its nuclear rights, but it is ready to cooperate on issues regarding atomic fuel, power plants and nuclear technology, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday.
He said the provision of nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor was an opportunity for Iran to evaluate the "honesty" of world powers and the United Nations nuclear agency.
He was speaking on the day Iran was expected to present its formal response to a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal which is meant to help ease tension over Tehran's disputed nuclear program. Iranian media say Tehran will accept the framework of the deal, but also demand changes to it.
Earlier Thursday a team of UN nuclear inspectors returned from a visit to a previously secret Iranian uranium enrichment site, with their leader expressing satisfaction with the mission.

What the inspectors saw - and how freely they were allowed to work - will be key in deciding whether six world powers engaging Iran in efforts to reduce fears that it seeks to make nuclear weapons seek a new round of talks with Tehran.
The Fordo site is near the holy city of Qom. Iran revealed it was building it September 21 in a confidential letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Just days later, the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France condemned Tehran for having kept it secret.
The West believes Iran revealed the site's existence only because it had learned that the U.S. and its allies were about to make it public. Iran denies that.

Tehran says it wants to enrich only to make nuclear fuel. But the West worries that Iran wants to create fissile warhead material.
"We had a good trip," said Herman Nackaerts, who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team.
Nackaerts said the nuclear agency planned to analyze the data from the visit, adding that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei would then report in due time on the results.
The team's findings will be presented as part of a report to the IAEA's 35-nation governing board. Beyond that, ElBaradei is expected to brief the six countries - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - attempting to persuade Iran to freeze enrichment.
The visit was the first independent look inside the enrichment plant, a former ammunition dump burrowed into the treeless hills south of Tehran. The inspectors were expected to have studied plant blueprints, interviewed workers and taken soil samples before wrapping up the mission.
Iran's other enrichment plant - a sprawling underground facility at Natanz - is already under IAEA monitoring. But its general refusal to heed UN Security Council demands and freeze enrichment has resulted in three sets of Council sanctions.
While the Islamic Republic insists it is enriching only to create fuel for a future nuclear reactor network, the international community is concerned because the material could be further enriched to weapons-grade uranium, used to arm nuclear warheads.
Along with the IAEA briefing on Fordo, the six powers are also awaiting another development later in the day or Friday that will go into determining whether they follow up on talks with Tehran early this month. By Friday, the Islamic Republic has promised to reveal whether it accepts a plan that would have it ship out 70 percent of its enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment.
The West said that Iran agreed in principle to do so at the Oct. 1 talks in Geneva, tentatively accepting a proposal that would see Russia enrich the exported material further for use in Tehran's research reactor.
The plan would commit Iran to turn over more than 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium - more than the commonly accepted amount of low-enriched uranium needed to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Sending such a large amount out would thus temporarily get rid of most of the material Tehran would need to make a bomb.
But if Tehran did accept the plan in Geneva, it has subsequently backtracked.
Ahead of announcing its formal decision it has indicated that may insist that it be allowed either to buy the fuel for the Tehran reactor from abroad - or to ship the material in small batches. That would not reduce fears about further enrichment to weapons-grade uranium because Iran would be able to quickly replace small amounts it sent out of the country with newly enriched material.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

80 dead in Pakistan bombing as Taleban welcome Hillary Clinton

President Obama's policy of dialogue with Muslim extremists may have suffered another setback, as Taleban provided lethal fireworks to welcome Secretary of State Clinton.  
Oct. 28, 2009
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
A car bomb tore through a crowded market in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 80 people hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in the country to show American support for its campaign against Islamist terrorists.
More than 200 people were wounded in the blast in the main northwestern city of Peshawar, the latest in a surge of bloody attacks this month by suspected militants apparently aimed at denting public backing for an army offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban close to the Afghan border.
The blast set scores of shops on fire and sent a cloud of gray smoke over the city. TV footage showed wounded people sitting amid the debris as people grabbed at the wreckage, trying to pull out survivors. One two-story building collapsed as firefighters doused it with water.
Clinton, on her first visit to Pakistan as secretary of state, was three hours' drive away in the capital of Islamabad when the blast took place. Speaking to reporters on her plane, she praised the army's new anti-Taliban offensive in South Waziristan and promised a new era in relations between Pakistan and the United States.
The explosion was in a neighborhood home to many Shiite Muslims, who have often been targeted by Taliban and al-Qaida allied Sunni extremists. It hit a market reserved for families. Many of the dead were believed to be women.
Emergency room doctor Zafar Iqbal said 80 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in what police said was a suspected car bombing.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Peshawar has been the target of three of 10 major bombings or raids blamed on Islamist militants this month.
The attacks have killed more than 250 people. Most have targeted security forces, but at least four bombs have gone off in public places, apparently to sow fear and undercut support for the government.
The Taliban have warned Pakistan that they would stage more attacks if the army does not end an offensive in South Waziristan tribal region, where the military has dispatched some 30,000 troops to flush out insurgents. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Call for support for Iranian students for democratic change

Call for support for Iranian students for democratic change
Please join us in front of the 10 Downing Street – London.
Students, workers, teachers, women's rights groups and millions more are planning to take to the streets in Iran to demand change. Despite the Government's threats to crack down on those who come out that day, brave men and women are determined to show their resolve for change one more time. Let us add our voice and send a message of support that they are not alone.
They deserve our support.
Time:  11:00 – 13:00
Date:   Wednesday, 4 November
Place:  Whitehall, opposite 10 Downing Street (Nearest tube station: Westminster)

Please Tell pass the word on and invite everyone you know n London.

Background Info:
On 4 November, 1979, hardline radicals who called themselves student followers of Imam Khomeini, stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took American diplomats hostage, holding them for 444 days. This action was highly praised by Khomeini. Since then the mullahs' authorities have organised an annual demonstration to commemorate the event marking it as the day of struggle against oppression.
However, after 30 years, those who have claimed to struggle against oppression have become oppressors themselves! Ahmadinejad, was one of the radicals in the US embassy tormenting the hostages, later in Evin prison he evolved to one of the most cruel interrogators and torturers who used his talent to break the morale of the dissident Iranian students, intellectuals, and opposition leaders in dungeons taking part in their execution.
This year, on 4 November, calls have gone out on the Internet by all opposition groups inside and outside Iran who want to see an end to this regime to stage a counter-demonstration against the mullahs.
This is the first big planned protest since June 2009 presidential elections when widespread demonstrations rocked all major Iranian cities. Over 300 people were killed and some 4,000 opposition backers were arrested in a crackdown in street protests that erupted after Ahmadinejad was re-elected.  Hundreds of thousands chanted "Down with dictator" and condemned the fraudulent election result.
Ahmad Jannati, a top mullah official and head of the Guardians Council, in last Friday prayer sermon broadcast on state radio, threatened people against popular plans for holding demonstrations on 4 November.

He said," 4 November is a day of struggle against oppression worldwide, some people who have made plans for this day to do something else must know that their plans will fail".

He added; "Any action that goes against the path of the people and against Velayat (religious rule) is destined to fail. ...authorities must act firmly against them".
"If the judiciary and the intelligence services act lightly, this would be a betrayal, you cannot treat with kid gloves those who have acted like our worst enemies" Jannati said.
Despite threats and promises to crack down on the crowd, opposition networks are working tirelessly to hold a momentous rally.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saudi TV sex scandal: Spare the rod and spoil the TV producer?


The Saudi king has waived a sentence of flogging on a female journalist working for a TV channel which aired graphic accounts of sex in the kingdom.

King Abdullah cancelled the sentence of 60 lashes against Rozanna al-Yami, after being briefed on the case.

The programme broadcast by Saudi-owned Lebanese channel LBC caused a huge scandal in the conservative kingdom.

Three men who bragged about their sexual adventures in the show, as well as the cameraman, have been jailed.

No reason has been given for the king's decision. It is the second time he has intervened in a high-profile flogging sentence in two years.

The original programme was part of a series called Red Lines, examining taboos in the Arab world, including extra-marital sex in Saudi Arabia.

Mazen Abdul Jawad provoked outrage by describing his techniques for meeting and having sex with Saudi women.

He has apologised and claimed LBC tricked him, but he was jailed for five years and sentenced to 1,000 lashes.

Three of his friends who appeared on the show got two years each and the cameraman was jailed for two months.

The station's offices in Saudi Arabia were closed down and two of its producers - both female - put on trial.

LBC has made no comment about the cases.