Archive for the ‘US’ Category

China and Russia May Accept Symbolic Sanctions

February 25, 2010

As the West is continuing to ratchet up pressure on Tehran over Iran’s nuclear program, it has been working to get the support of UN veto-wielding countries Russia and China. Now, there are some signs that those two countries may—at least symbolically—go along with sanctions.

Leaders from the United States, Britain, France and Germany have been debating targeted sanctions, while Russia and China have maintained hesitancy on sanctions. Now, Western nations are stepping up efforts to get Russia and China on board.

“It’s time to start haggling with the Russians and Chinese so we can get a sanctions text to the Security Council in the near future,” one Western diplomat was reported as saying. “We believe we can get their support, though it will come at a price.”
Tehran has already been targeted with three rounds of U.N. sanctions including, travel bans on certain officials and asset freezes aimed at individuals and companies involved in its nuclear and missile programs.
Iran, for its part, has proposed an alternative plan to the UN backed proposal originally offered last October, which Iran did not accept. Western countries, however, do not see Iran’s plan as feasible and have rejected it.

The sanctions debate has heated up as the International Atomic Energy Agency came out last week with a report showing signs that the Islamic Republic may be actively pursuing a nuclear weapons capability—a claim that Tehran denies.

IAEA Says Iran Possibly Working on Nuclear Warhead

February 18, 2010

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced concern that its information about Iran’s nuclear activities suggests Tehran may be working on a nuclear warhead, according to a classified report obtained by Agence France Presse today.

“The information available to the agency … raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano wrote in his first report to its board of governors.

This is the first time the IAEA has expressed such concern over Iran’s “current” activities.
According to the AFP, the report went on to confirm claims from Tehran earlier this month that the country had begun enriching uranium at the 20 percent level. Iran had previously been enriching uranium to the 3.5-5 percent level.

“Iran provided the agency with mass spectrometry results which indicate that enrichment levels of up to 19.8 percent (uranium) were obtained,” the AFP quoted the report as saying, adding that the enrichment was carried out at a plant in Natanz between February 9 and 11.

Despite the higher level of enrichment, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent or higher for it to be weapons grade.

After a UN proposed plan that Iran send 75-80 percent of its LEU abroad for further enrichment fell through, Iran announced it would begin enriching uranium to 20 percent, claiming it needed the enriched uranium for a research reactor that makes medical radioisotopes.

“On February 10, when the agency inspectors arrived at PFEP (Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant), they were informed that Iran had already begun to feed the UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) into one cascade the previous evening,” Amano’s report said.

The report also said Iran had moved most of its overall stockpile of low-enriched uranium—1,950 kilograms from an estimated total of 2,065 kilograms—for processing to higher levels.

Iran and the West

June 22, 2009

Grace Nasri: A message to the west
Iran’s people want freedom and democracy. The west must take care not to get in the way.

The echo of 1978-79 and the the Islamic revolution is everywhere, even for those too young to remember or born later. A sea of protesters – men and women, of all ages, clad in western styles and in the full hijab – peacefully throngs the streets and chants from the rooftops, the demand for rights and opposition to injustice on everyone’s lips.

This is a signal of the intense pressure on the Iranian regime – from within the elite itself, from its own people, and from the international arena. These were already evident during the election campaign, in (for example) Ahmadinejad’s attack on Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on grounds of corruption, which in turn provoked the influential former president to criticise Khamenei for not intervening to stop the allegations. Now, after the questionably fraudulent election, the people have piled more pressure on the regime with their immense mobilisation in Tehran.

Those who have taken to the streets do not all advocate regime change, but they do want more openness and democracy. This is where the third source of pressure – powerful states outside Iran (especially the United States, Europe and Israel) – need to be cautious and sensitive, especially in refraining from any statements or actions that may unintentionally encourage the Iranians to move away from the path they are on.

A political system on the verge of change exhibits two major signs: a crack within the leadership, and a widening gap between what the people want and what the system provides.

In the current fluid and delicate circumstances, the United States, Europe and Israel must be careful to allow the emerging democratic movement in Iran to breathe, and refrain from actions that imperil it.

The pressure from within may be enough to force change on the Iranian regime in the direction of openness and democracy. But the wrong sort of pressure from without could yet put this into reverse. The external powers most concerned by and involved in events in Iran could, by seeing the turmoil in Tehran as an opportunity to promote short-term interests, thwart the Iranians’ historic struggle. The future relationship between the Iranian people and the international community will depend on how the world behaves towards Iran today.

Grace Nasri is the assistant editor of an Iranian newspaper published in the United StatesToday’s protesters against the official announcement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the presidential election on 12 June have already secured one concession: supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s promise of an “investigation” into this outcome.