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Category Archives: IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
Let’s begin with some side deals made that John Kerry, Barack Obama and Europe never admitted to shall we? Check the date of that tweet…I have been calling for President Trump to declassify documents related to all the years of negotiations since early 2017.
H.J.Ansari Zarif’s senior advisor: “If Europeans stop trading with Iran and don’t put pressure on US then we will reveal which western politicians and how much money they had received during nuclear negotiations to make #IranDeal happen.”
That would be interesting.#JCPOA
*Iran Says Will No Longer Comply With Nuclear Enrichment Limits Under 2015 Deal – Iran Media
*Iran Says Won’t Respect Nuclear Deal Commitments on Enrichment Uranium Stockpile, Purity, Research – Iran Media
*Iran Says Will Continue to Work with U.N. Atomic Agency Inspectors – Iran Media
There are written steps Iran must take to make changes to the JCPOA. There is no indication of what the steps are and when the steps will be taken. Iran is at the 5th and final step regarding non-compliance/commitment. Of particular note, since May, Iran has been reducing its nuclear commitments with a series of steps every 60 days already. Last November, Iran gave Britain, France and Germany yet another 60 day extension to salvage the deal or face further non-compliance. The deadline came and went.
The European Union has continued attempts for a diplomatic salvage, so far to no avail. Now, leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss the nuclear deal and how to de-escalate tension since the strike to kill General Qasim Soleimani.
France is especially committed to the Iran nuclear deal and is urging Iran to stay with the landmark 2015 agreement.
Iran’s President Rouhani made a state television appearance stating it remains open to negotiations with European partners. Iran is desperate to sell its oil to Europe and to maintain trade with Europe as the Iranian economy is in a financial free-fall. Watch for epic smuggling directed by Iran….
The International Atomic Energy Agency has not yet responded regarding Iran’s assertion. Iranian officials are to meet in the coming days to discuss that final 5th step in separating from the nuclear deal. Iran has already previously broken limits of enrichment, stockpiles and centrifuges.
Meanwhile to further complicate tensions in the Middle East, Iran is pulling out the whole cultural protections law noted in the 1954 Hague Convention.
The 1954 Hague Convention, of which the U.S. is a party, bars any military from “direct hostilities against cultural property.” However, such sites can be targeted if they have been re-purposed and turned into a legitimate “military objective,” according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Iran, home to 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites, has in the past reportedly guarded the sprawling tomb complex of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, with surface-to-air missiles.
The announcement came as Iranians marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover and start of the 444-day hostage crisis.
The decision to operate 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges means that the country can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the first-generation IR-1s allowed under the accord.
The nuclear deal limited Iran to using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas. Salehi also said Tehran was working on a prototype centrifuge that’s 50 times faster than those allowed under the deal.
By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one-year time limit that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, if it chose to pursue one.
Under the Iran deal, Iran agreed to redesign, convert and limit its nuclear facilities.
Particular focus was put on Iran’s uranium-enrichment capabilities, putting serious limitations on uranium-enrichment facilities in Iran – Natanz and Fordow. Among other resolutions, Iran also agreed to allow inspection of all its nuclear facilities and the IAEA inspectors will be able to request visits to military sites. However, it doesn’t guarantee them access to military sites.
Fordow is Iran’s second fuel enrichment facility, buried under a mountain in the Great Salt Desert near the holy city of Qom. Before the Iran deal, the bunker was filled with 2,710 centrifuges that could enrich uranium to weapons-grade materials.
Under the nuclear agreement, Iran agreed to stop any uranium enrichment and uranium enrichment R&D at Fordow and turn the plant into a nuclear physics and technology center that will produce radioisotopes for use in medicine, agriculture, industry and science.
U.S. State Department officials described Iran’s blocking of an international nuclear inspector from accessing key nuclear sites last week as an “outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation” amid growing concerns Iran is hiding undeclared nuclear materials.
The administration suspects that Iran is trying to prevent international inspectors from confirming its work with prohibited nuclear materials.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the two issues the IAEA acting director general described in today’s special session of the IAEA Board of Directors,” the official said. “First, that the IAEA has detected evidence of potential undeclared nuclear material in Iran, and second, the detention of an IAEA inspector. Along with Iran’s expansion of proliferation-sensitive nuclear activity, this pattern of deception and intimidation is unacceptable. All nations should be concerned that Iran is not fully cooperating with the IAEA and should demand Iran immediately redress these serious problems.”
The diplomatic escalation comes as Iran breaches limits on the amount of enriched uranium it produces and the enrichment methods it uses. It escalated installations of advanced centrifuges in the past week and has vowed to continue doing so.
Nuclear experts told the Free Beacon that Iran’s behavior raises multiple questions and concerns about the nature of its ongoing work.
“Assuming the IAEA version of events is correct and she did not have explosive contamination on her person, then Iran may be testing what the reaction is to denying inspectors access to safeguarded sites,” David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Free Beacon.
“How long does it take for this episode to be reported to the board and media?” he asked. “Does the IAEA send a replacement quickly? How many countries and which ones believe the Iranian rationale? Is there outrage or are there divisions that delay a coordinated response?”
Andrea Stricker, a nonproliferation analyst and research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, described Iran’s actions as “highly provocative.”
It “gives the impression that Iran could be considering curtailing inspection authorities as a future step to draw down its JCPOA commitments,” Stricker said. “It’s a hostile sign for sure.”
RFERL: The UN’s nuclear watchdog has issued a report saying Iran is preparing for possible major expansion of uranium enrichment in a fortified underground facility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) quarterly report also says “extensive activities” — a reference to suspected sanitization efforts — at Iran’s Parchin military complex will hamper its investigation of possible past nuclear weapons development work there, if inspectors are granted access.
The report says Iran has produced 189 kilograms of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010 — up from 145 kilograms since May, when the previous quarterly report was issued.
The IAEA reported last year that Iran placed “a large explosives containment vessel” in Parchin in 2000 and constructed a building around it.
The facilities were designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kilograms of high explosives — something the IAEA called “relevant to the development of an explosive nuclear device.”
Since that report, the IAEA has sought to send inspectors to the site of the suspected building but have been denied access by Iran to that part of the military base.
In recent months, the agency also has obtained information that indicates Iran has been busy cleaning up the suspected site, including tearing down some buildings and removing soil.
The last effort by the IAEA to convince Iran to let inspectors visit the site — where Iran denies clean-up activities are taking place — broke down in June when Tehran accused the agency of acting like an “intelligence organization.”
More Centrifuges At Fordow Site
The IAEA’s latest report also says the number of enrichment centrifuges at Fordow has more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May.
The Fordow facility is extremely controversial for two reasons.
First, it is dug into a mountain, making it difficult to bomb — suggesting it could have a military purpose.
Secondly, the centrifuges at the facility are being used to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent — far higher than the 4 percent needed for fuel for commercial reactors.
Iran has said it is producing the 20 percent-enriched fuel for use in research reactors to produce medical isotopes.
But arms-control experts worry that creating large stockpiles of 20 percent-enriched uranium makes it much easier for Iran to later complete the jump to 90 percent-enriched uranium needed for nuclear bombs.
In Washington, the White House said it was closely studying the fresh IAEA report.
In Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, denied his country is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, adding Iran will “never abandon its right for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
In what appears to be a sign of the IAEA’s growing concern over Iran’s nuclear activities, the agency this week revealed it was creating a special Iran “task force.”
The task force is to scrutinize Tehran’s nuclear program and its compliance with UN resolutions — including those demanding a suspension of uranium enrichment.
Iran has denied any interest in nuclear arms.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Liz Cheney is introducing legislation to fully terminate all of the Iran nuclear deal including the remaining sanctions waivers.
Yet, it seems that Turkey, a NATO member and in major dispute with the United States over Syria has not only defied NATO rules and the United States but has fully allied with Russia but for sure now as well Iran.
FDD: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced yesterday that it will sell its 10 percent stake in the Istanbul stock exchange after Turkey named as its CEO a Turkish banker convicted in U.S. court for his role in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade Washington’s sanctions on Iran. Ankara’s move to reward a sanctions buster further strengthens the argument that Turkey has become a permissive jurisdiction for illicit finance.
Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund offered today to buy EBRD’s shares, which would increase the fund’s stake in the stock exchange to over 90 percent. EBRD’s exit will mean the departure of Borsa Istanbul’s only major foreign stakeholder at a critical moment in Turkey’s relations with its western allies. Ankara’s military operation in northeast Syria targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces – Washington’s key partner in the fight against the Islamic State – has drawn sweeping condemnation from the international community.
Five days after Ankara launched its Syria incursion, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three Turkish officials and Turkey’s ministries of energy and defense. That same week, the Southern District of New York filed an indictment charging Halkbank, a Turkish public lender, for its role in the multi-billion dollar gas-for-gold scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. Halkbank’s deputy general manager, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, in 2018 received a sentence of 32 months for his role in the affair. At the time of Atilla’s sentencing, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the trial as a political attack on his government.
Atilla returned to Turkey in July after serving his U.S. sentence. Last week, just days after U.S. federal prosecutors indicted Halkbank, Turkish Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law, named Atilla as CEO of the Istanbul stock exchange.
Atilla’s promotion is part of a string of appointments that showcase Erdogan’s policy of rehabilitating Iran sanctions busters and rewarding corrupt officials who further his personal ambitions. In September, Erdogan appointed former Minister for European Union Affairs Egemen Bagis as Turkey’s ambassador to Prague. Bagis had resigned from the ministry after a 2013 corruption scandal implicated him in accepting bribes related to the gas-for-gold scheme run through Halkbank.
Members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) who dare criticize his policy of rehabilitating sanctions evaders continue to draw the Turkish president’s wrath. After publicly pronouncing strong opposition to Bagis’s ambassadorial appointment and other party policies, a senior AKP lawmaker, Mustafa Yeneroglu, resigned from the party yesterday after Erdogan commanded him to step down.
Another minister implicated in taking bribes as part of the Halkbank scheme, Zafer Caglayan, who served as minister of Economy in 2013 before resigning due to corruption allegations, has returned to political life as an AKP delegate from the Turkish city of Mersin. Caglayan is best known for accepting bribes of cash and jewelry worth tens of millions of dollars.
Erdogan’s rehabilitation of sanctions evaders continues to hurt Turkey’s image, economy, and investment climate. Ankara’s apparent disregard for U.S. sanctions, including those targeting Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, does not bode well for Washington or other NATO allies. Yet so far, President Donald Trump has shielded Erdogan from U.S. sanctions, the most recent of which he lifted after only nine days. In contrast, a biting sanctions bill focused on Turkey passed the House 403 to 16 on Tuesday. Like Congress, Trump should communicate to his Turkish counterpart that his policy of evading sanctions and rewarding sanctions busters could have dire consequences.
Iran remains the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. The regime has spent nearly one billion dollars per year to support terrorist groups that serve as its proxies and expand its malign influence across the globe. Tehran has funded international terrorist groups such as Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It also has engaged in its own terrorist plotting around the world, particularly in Europe. In January, German authorities investigated 10 suspected Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force operatives. In the summer, authorities in Belgium, France, and Germany thwarted an Iranian plot to bomb a political rally near Paris, France. In October, an Iranian operative was arrested for planning an assassination in Denmark, and in December, Albania expelled two Iranian officials for plotting terrorist attacks. Furthermore, Tehran continued to allow an AQ facilitation network to operate in Iran, which sends fighters and money to conflict zones in Afghanistan and Syria, and it has extended sanctuary to AQ members residing in the country.
Forty years ago, on November 4, 1979, the United States embassy in Tehran was taken over by a group of people calling themselves “Student followers of the line of the Imam.”
Fifty-two U.S. embassy employees and diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days. Years later, the hostage-takers went on to become the most senior officials of Iran’s regime, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former President of the regime. Many of the hostage-takers still hold key positions in the regime. Some were wrongly dubbed as “moderates” by the West despite their loyalty to the regime’s agenda.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, spokeswoman of the “Student followers of the line of the Imam”:
Masoumeh Ebtekar, also known as “Sister Mary,” was the spokeswoman for the hostage-takers. She vehemently defended the Americans’ detention and demanded to be tried. She is now Iran’s Vice President for women and family affairs. In the first term of Hassan Rouhani’s Presidency, she was also Vice President and head of the environmental preservation organization. In Mohammad Khatami’s administration, she was Vice President and Head of the environmental preservation organization for several years.
He is now Political Advisor to the President. For years, he held top positions in the Foreign Ministry, including the post of Deputy Foreign Minister for political affairs, the regime’s Ambassador to a number of Western countries including Italy, Belgium, Australia, and the European Union (for 15 years). He was previously General Manager of Political Affairs in the Foreign Ministry (for 5 years), Advisor to the Foreign Minister (for 5 years), and member of Foreign Ministry’s Strategic Council. In 2014, he was Rouhani’s candidate to become the regime’s representative to the United Nations in New York, but the U.S. government refused to grant him a visa due to his role in the hostage-taking and in the 1993 assassination of Mohammad-Hossein Naqdi, representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Italy.
Hossein Sheikholislam, council member of “Student followers of the line of the Imam” and member of the team reviewing U.S. embassy documents:
He is now Advisor to the Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Previously, for several years, he was Deputy for International Affairs to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. For 16 years, Sheikholislam was Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs. Subsequently, for three years, he became Iran’s Ambassador to Syria, and after two terms as a Member of Parliament, he became Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle Eastern affairs.
Mohammad-Ali (Aziz) Jafari, one of the plotters of the U.S. embassy takeover:
Until April 21, 2019, for over 10 years, Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari was Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He is currently in charge of the “Baqiollah Cultural and Social Headquarters.”
IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan was Iran’s Defense Minister in Rouhan’s first term (2013-2017), and he is now Advisor to the Supreme Leader on Defense Industries and Army Support. From 2004 to 2009, he was Vice President and chairman of the Shahid Foundation (Bonyad-e Shahid), one of the largest economic institutions in the regime.
During Khatami’s Presidency, he was Deputy Defense Minister. Prior to that, he was Deputy Chief of the IRGC Air Force.
After the U.S. hostages were released, Hossein Dehqan joined the IRGC and went to Lebanon. In the years 1982 to 1984, he was in Beirut at the peak of terror attacks in Lebanon, especially massive explosions like the ones at the U.S. embassy and U.S. Marines barracks. He had acknowledged his key role in the formation of Lebanese Hizballah. Based on reports by U.S. media, he had a direct role in the 1983 bombing in Beirut, in which 241 U.S. marines were killed.
Reza Seifollahi, a main plotter of the embassy takeover and member of the central council of the “Student followers of the line of the Imam”:
From 2013 to 2018, Reza Seifollahi was the Political Deputy of the Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). From 2008 to 2013, He was deputy coordinator of the regime’s Expediency Council. He was a senior IRGC commander, including the commander of IRGC Intelligence. When the Police, Gendarmeries, and Committees (Comite) were all combined into once force, Seifollahi was appointed as the first commander of the State Security Forces (SSF). During Khatami’s Presidency, he was Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs.
Habibollah Bitaraf, a main plotter of the embassy takeover and member of the central council of the “Student followers of the line of the Imam”:
From 1997 to 2005, he was Iran’s Energy Minister. From 1986 to 1989, he was the Governor of Yazd Province. Also, for nearly five years, he was Deputy Minister of Energy for Educational Affairs.
An IRGC Brigadier General, he became head of the state Radio and Television Corporation on the orders of the Supreme Leader, and from 2004 to 2014 he played a key role in the regime’s propaganda machine. For years, Zarghami was the keynote speaker at ceremonies in front of the US embassy in Tehran to mark the anniversary of the embassy takeover.
After the hostages were released, Afshar joined the IRGC, and he has held important posts in the IRGC ever since, including as Chief of the IRGC General Staff, Commander of the Basij Force and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces for Cultural Affairs.
In Ahmadinejad’s administration, Afshar was Deputy Minister of Interior for Political and Social Affairs.
He is now head of the Supreme Delegation for the IRGC School of thought.
During Khatami’s presidency, Mohsen Aminzadeh was Deputy Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs. He was a shadow minister when Kamal Kharrazi was Foreign Minister.
During Khatami’s second term as President, Sharifzadegan was a member of “the Islamic partnership front” and General Manager of the Social Security Organization and Minister of Social Security.
Mohammad Mehdi Rahmati:
During Ahmadinejad’s Presidency, Rahmati was in charge of President’s Office of Planning and Strategic Oversight
In the first term of Ahmadinejad’s Presidency, Behzadian-Nejad was Deputy Interior Minister for Economic Affairs. Later, he became head of the Commerce Office of Tehran.
The seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran marked the beginning of the regime’s policy of hostage-taking and international blackmail, a policy that has become official and institutionalized as part of the foreign policy of this regime.
For 40 years, the foreign policy of the mullahs’ regime has been rooted in terrorism and blackmail. Today, it is recognized as the world’s main state sponsor of terrorism. In the past 40 years, there has never been a time that this regime has not held onto hostages. Still, under different pretexts, Americans and other countries’ citizens are kept in the Iranian regime’s prisons as hostages.
In the past 40 years, thousands of innocent people have fallen victim to the regime and its proxy groups’ terrorism in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and even Latin America.
Terrorism and hostage-taking are a part of the DNA of Iran’s regime.
The 1979 U.S. embassy takeover, which later was dubbed by regime officials as a ‘revolution greater than the 1979 revolution,’ had the goal of eliminating Iran’s democratic forces, and more specifically the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), or Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) from the political scene. Khomeini, the regime’s Supreme Leader at the time, supported the act of the students, and Khamenei the current Supreme Leader, who at the time was Friday prayers’ leader and Khomeini’s representative, was one of the main supporters of the takeover; he went to the embassy and encouraged the students.
It is no surprise then that just last week Khamenei, through his representative in the state-run Keyhan newspaper, called on regime-backed Iraqi militias known as the “Hashd al Shaabi,” who are under the command of the IRGC Qods Force, to take over the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by the same model that took place in Tehran 40 years ago.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor and representative of the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader in Kayhan, in the paper’s October 30, 2019 editorial called for the takeover of the U.S. Embassy by the Iraqi militias.
Shariatmadari, whose words reflect Khamenei’s opinions, wrote: “In a previous note, by mentioning the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran, which the Imam called the “second revolution,” the issue was raised in the context of a question that why the Iraqi revolutionary youths … are not ending the presence of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which is the epicenter of conspiracy and espionage against the innocent people of Iraq!? And why are you not eliminating and throwing out this infected wound from your holy land? The takeover of the U.S. espionage center in Islamic Iran and eliminating that epicenter of conspiracy had many benefits for us. So why then are the revolutionary youths of Iraq depriving their holy land from these benefits?”
Primer: North Korea could now have as many as 60 nuclear warheads in its inventory. The new number is more than double the maximum estimate of 20 to 25 weapons by Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and now a professor at Stanford University. Hecker was the last American scientist to visit North Korea’s nuclear weapons complex, in late 2010. Most estimates of the size of the North’s inventory have been far more conservative, generally in the range of 12 to 15 to 20.
Japan defense white paper to concede North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads, report says
TOKYO/BEIJING – Japan has upgraded its estimate of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability in an upcoming annual defense white paper, saying it seems Pyongyang has already achieved the miniaturization of warheads, the Yomiuri newspaper said in an unsourced report Wednesday.
That compares with the assessment in last year’s report in which the government said it was possible North Korea had achieved miniaturization, the daily said without citing sources.
The report, to be approved at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September, will maintain the assessment that North Korea’s military activities pose a “serious and imminent threat,” the Yomiuri said.
South Korea’s 2018 defense white paper, released in January, reported that North Korea’s ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons “appears to have reached a considerable level.”
According to South Korean media reports late last year, the South Korean intelligence agency told lawmakers that North Korea had continued to miniaturize nuclear warheads even after the Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018.
At that time, North Korea committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and destroyed some tunnels and buildings at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
But a second Trump-Kim meeting in February collapsed without an agreement, and North Korea has since resumed missile tests.
American officials have concluded for years that North Korea had likely produced miniaturized nuclear warheads. A leaked report by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2017 concluded that North Korea had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, according to The Washington Post.
In last year’s defense white paper, Japan said “miniaturizing a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile requires a considerably high degree of technological capacity,” and that “it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads.”
Also Wednesday, North Korea voiced its eagerness via its state-run media to continue developing and testing new weapons while accusing the United States of seeking confrontation through joint military drills with the South.
“There can be no constructive dialogue while confrontation is fueled,” the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said. “We have to develop, test and deploy powerful physical means essential for national defense.”
The remarks by North Korea’s most influential newspaper came a day after the United States and South Korea ended their joint military exercise that started Aug. 5. Pyongyang has denounced such drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea has repeatedly launched projectiles, including what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, off its east coast since July 25, in protest against the latest U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise.
The moves came despite Trump’s revelation earlier this month that he received what he called a “beautiful” letter from Kim. Trump said Kim expressed his desire in the letter to hold more summit talks following the end of the military drill.
North Korea is scheduled to convene the second session of its top legislative body this year on Aug. 29. All eyes are on whether Kim will make a speech at the legislature to announce his policy of how to proceed with denuclearization negotiations with the United States.
At their June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom, Trump and Kim agreed that Washington and Pyongyang would resume stalled denuclearization talks within weeks, but they have yet to take place.