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Iran enriching uranium at Fordo plant near Qom

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Iran enriching uranium at Fordo plant near Qom

Post  Panda on Tue 10 Jan - 0:53

9 January 2012
Last updated at 23:24

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Iran enriching uranium at Fordo plant near Qom

Satellite images showed the Fordo site under construction in 2009

Continue reading the main story

Iran nuclear crisis

Iran has begun enriching uranium at a heavily fortified underground site, the UN's nuclear watchdog has confirmed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said medium-level enrichment had begun at the Fordo plant, in northern Iran.

Tehran has said it plans to carry out uranium enrichment
there for purely peaceful purposes. The West argues Iran is building a
nuclear weapons capacity.

The US said the Fordo work was a "further escalation" in the row. The UK and France also condemned the project.

The existence of the facility near Qom, in the north of the
country, only came to light after it was identified by Western
intelligence agencies in September 2009.

Continue reading the main story “Start Quote

All nuclear material in the (Fordo) facility remains under the agency's containment and surveillance”

Gill Tudor
IAEA spkeswoman

Tehran said it began the project in 2007, but the IAEA believes design work started in 2006.

BBC Iran correspondent James Reynolds says the facility has attracted plenty of attention and suspicion.

It is underground, heavily fortified and protected by the armed forces - making it a very difficult target for air strikes.

The US and Israel have refused to rule out attacks on Iranian facilities.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), Gill Tudor, said the agency could "confirm that Iran has
started the production of uranium enriched up to 20%".

She added that "all nuclear material in the facility remains under the agency's containment and surveillance".

Iran insists enriched uranium is needed to make isotopes to
treat cancers. But analysts say 20% enrichment is an important step
towards making uranium weapons-grade.

In Washington, state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland
said such a level of enrichment was "a further escalation" of the
Iranians' "ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations",
and suggested "a different kind of a nuclear programme".

Continue reading the main story Analysis

James Reynolds
BBC Iran correspondent

Iran's new facility began in secret. The state may have
preferred to keep it that way. But in September 2009 the US, France and
the UK publicly revealed its existence - a fact that was subsequently
confirmed by Iran.

Since then, the new plant has attracted plenty of both
attention and suspicion. It has been built underground and it is heavily
fortified. In particular, Iran appears to want to guard against
potential air strikes. Military experts suggest that the facility may be
able to survive attack from all but the most powerful bombs.

Iranian officials suggest that the new plant is an important
step forward for the country's nuclear programme. But it is not yet
clear how productive the facility will be. Iran says it hopes to carry
out what's known as medium-level uranium enrichment at the plant -
uranium enriched to 20%.

Western analysts warn that medium-level enrichment is an
important step towards enriching uranium to weapons-grade. But Iran
stresses that its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

In Paris, a statement by the
foreign ministry said the Iranian move "leaves us with no other choice
but to reinforce international sanctions and to adopt, with our European
partners and all willing countries, measures of an intensity and
severity without precedent".

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the
"provocative act which further undermines Iran's claims that its
programme is entirely civilian in nature".

'Falsely accused'
Earlier on Monday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted Iran would not bow to pressure from the West.

"The Islamic establishment... knows firmly what it is doing
and has chosen its path and will stay the course," he said in a speech
broadcast on state television.

Tensions have been high since the US imposed new sanctions on
Iran's central bank and the European Union said it would place an
embargo on Iran's oil exports.

EU foreign ministers are due to meet to approve the embargo later this month.

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - a key
route from the Gulf through which 20% of the world's traded oil passes.

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Sunday that such a
move would cross a "red line" and "we would take action and reopen the

Adding to the strains, a court in Tehran on Monday sentenced to death an Iranian-American man accused of being a CIA spy.

Amir Mirzai Hekmati, 28, a former US marine, had been show on
state television in December allegedly confessing to being part of a
plot to infiltrate Iran's intelligence services for the CIA.

Our correspondent says Iran's judicial and political systems
place huge emphasis on the importance of confessions, which are viewed
with concern by human rights groups.

Mr Hekmati's family, who live in Arizona, say the charges
against him are fabricated and that he was in Iran to visit his
grandmothers. The US has demanded his release.

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Re: Iran enriching uranium at Fordo plant near Qom

Post  Panda on Tue 10 Jan - 15:22

There is increasing tension between Iran and the US Government who says if Iran tries to block entrance to the Strait of Hormuz used
to transport Oil, the U.S. will take immediate action.

Iran is gettiing some support from Latin Countries who argue that other Countries are allowed to have Nuclear Capacity so why not Iran?
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Who's killing Iranian nuclear scientists?

Post  Panda on Thu 12 Jan - 9:36

Who's killing Iranian nuclear scientists?

By Josh Levs, CNN
January 11, 2012 -- Updated 2131 GMT (0531 HKT)

Nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a blast in Tehran on Wednesday, the state-run IRNA news agency said.


  • U.S. Secretary of State Clinton categorically denies any involvement in Iran
  • An Israeli military spokesman says he doesn't "shed a tear" over the reported death
  • Analyst: Israeli involvement with support from some in Iran is the most likely scenario
  • Other possibilities: Iranian opposition, or involvement of Arab intelligence, analysts say

(CNN) -- It's a question many people inside Iran --
and those who watch the country closely around the world -- were asking
Wednesday: Who is killing nuclear scientists in Iran?

An explosion on Wednesday killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a top
official at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, Iranian officials said.

He is the third man identified as a nuclear scientist to be killed in
Iran in a mysterious explosion in the past two years. A fourth survived
an assassination attempt.

In each case, someone placed a bomb under the scientist's car.

Iranian officials, on state-run media, blame Israel and the United States.

"I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any
kind of act of violence inside Iran," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said Wednesday.

"We believe there has to be an understanding between Iran, its
neighbors and the international community that finds a way forward for
it to end its provocative behavior, end its search for nuclear weapons
and rejoin the international community and be a productive member of
it," she said.

While Israel generally refuses to comment on accusations and
speculation , Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israel
Defense Forces, said on his Facebook page Wednesday, "I have no idea who
targeted the Iranian scientist but I certainly don't shed a tear."

Mickey Segal, a former director of the Iranian department in the
Israel Defense Forces' Intelligence Branch, told Israel Army Radio that
Wednesday's attack was part of broader pressure being brought to bear on
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime. "Many bad things have been
happening to Iran in the recent period. Iran is in a situation where
pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the
pressure that the Iranian regime is facing," Segal said.

US denies involvement in Iranian's death

Iranian nuclear scientist killed

Nuclear scientist killed in Iran

With no one claiming responsibility, the killings remain shrouded in
mystery. Iran experts contacted by CNN could only speculate.

"The most likely contender among people who are following this is
that the Israelis are doing it, possibly in cooperation with the Iranian
mujahedin," said Trita Parsi, president of the National
Iranian-American Council and author of the book "A Single Roll of the
Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran."

"There's almost no downside for Israel," he said. The killings "take
out nuclear assets and embarrass Iran" by showing that the regime can't
prevent such attacks, Parsi said. And "if Iran retaliates with a violent
act, then Israel can point to it as a reason to take military action
against the regime."

Michael Rubin, resident scholar with the American Enterprise
Institute, agrees that Israeli involvement is the most "plausible"
scenario. And Mark Hibbs, senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, also said the way the attacks took place "would
be consistent" with the possibility of Israel acting with cooperation
inside Iran.

Parsi told CNN he does not believe the killings are the work of the
United States, and said they do not match the kind of activity U.S.
intelligence would carry out in a country with which there is no
declared state of war.

Rubin agreed, and gave a different reason. "Frankly, I don't think
the United States has the human intelligence knowledge," he said.

The United States and Israel have been the most vocal opponents of
Iran's nuclear program, although numerous countries have expressed
serious concern as well. Iran insists its nuclear program is for
peaceful, civilian energy purposes.

If Israel is cooperating with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) to carry
out attacks on Iranian nuclear officials, it faces a significant risk,
Parsi argues. The United States lists the MEK as a terrorist group.
"Israel is a victim of terrorism and pressing other states to take
measures against terrorism," Parsi noted. If it turns out to be
collaborating with a group on the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist
Organizations, Israel's efforts to get other countries to crack down on
terrorist groups could be damaged.

MEK, an Iranian opposition group, has support from some members of
Congress who say it should be removed from the terrorist list.

Several analysts said they are certain that, whoever is organizing the killings, Iranians are involved.

If Iranian leaders had a "clue" who is behind the killings, "they'd
have stopped this by now," said Daniel Serwer, Middle East Scholar with
Johns Hopkins University. "The incredible thing is that it continues.
That suggests it is Iranians doing the deeds, no matter who is the
sponsor. Foreigners are under pretty tight scrutiny in Iran these days."

But Hibbs, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he believes Israeli agents could be inside Iran.

Whoever's behind the attacks knows who the nuclear officials are, and
the specifics of their travel plans. That could be foreign governments
with intelligence assets in Iran, Hibbs said.

But it's also "conceivable this could be carried out by Iranians who
oppose the government even without the support of outside governments,"
Hibbs said.

The nuclear program "is a centerpiece for Iran, a very, very
important aspect for this regime," he said. Groups inside Iran dedicated
to overthrowing the regime would have reason to target the program, he
said. "This is a program which is right at the heart of the legitimacy
of this government."

Rubin, of the American Enterprise Institute, said there is another
"plausible" explanation: that "Arab intelligence services" are involved.

"The assumption that many Americans have that the Mossad," Israel's
foreign intelligence unit, "is the most skilled intelligence service" in
the Middle East is "a couple of decades out of date," he said.

Some intelligence services in the Arab world "could have recruited
Shiites" in the region, potentially in Iraq, to take action against the
nuclear program, he said.

There is also some speculation that the Iranian regime itself could have been involved in at least one of the killings.

The first, in January 2010, left university professor and nuclear
scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi dead in a car bomb. That attack came
shortly after major riots against the regime, and many people thought
the regime was behind that killing, Parsi said.

Mohammadi "did not seem to be a particularly valuable nuclear
target," he said. Some reports suggested Mohammadi was an outspoken
supporter of the "green movement," and had helped organize protests,
Parsi said.

But the man killed in November 2010, Majid Shahriari, and the one who
survived an assassination attempt at the time, Fereydoon Abbasi Davani,
were a different story. It "would make no sense for the Iranians to
assassinate them," Parsi said. "They were critical nuclear assets."

No matter who is behind them, the attacks do not seem to be reversing
Iran's efforts, said Parsi. "Arguably, the incentive for the Iranians
to go forward with what they have has grown, because now they're under
such critical threat," he said.

But there are suggestions that the overall pressure being applied
against Iran, including international sanctions, for its failure to
cooperate on nuclear issues is making some scientists wary of adding
their efforts. Iran's semi-official Fars news agency earlier this week
quoted Davani, now the head of Iran's nuclear program, describing as
"deserters" in a "scientific war" the "scientists who, for the sake of
preserving their international connections, refuse to cooperate in (our)
nuclear projects."

The killings of Iranian scientists have come up on the campaign trail
in the United States among contenders for the Republican presidential
nomination. Newt Gingrich, at a debate in November, expressed support
for the idea of "taking out their scientists." Rick Santorum, at an
event in October, referred to the scientists turning up dead as "a
wonderful thing."

Roshan's killing comes amid growing tensions between Iran and the
West. U.S. officials say the international sanctions on Iran have taken a
toll. Iran earlier this week sentenced a U.S. ex-Marine to death on
charges of espionage, despite statements by him, his family, and the
U.S. government that he is not a spy.
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