Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eye on Iran: Iran Loads Fuel Rods Into Bushehr Nuclear Reactor

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Top Stories

"Iran began loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant on Tuesday, moving closer to the start-up of a facility that the U.S. once hoped to stop over fears of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Iranian authorities see the completion of the plant, built with the help of
Russia, as a show of defiance against United Nations Security Council sanctions against its nuclear program. 'Nearly 160 fuel rods have been placed into the core of the reactor ... which will be the energy production stage and a key stage for its operation,' Mohammad Ahmadian, a senior nuclear, official told reporters. At the plant's inauguration on Aug. 21, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi had said loading the fuel into the reactor core would take place in the next two weeks and the plant would then produce electricity by November. A leak in a storage pool delayed the process for months, however, and Iran now says the 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant will begin generating electricity in early 2011."

AP: "Iran acknowledged Tuesday that it has been sending funds to neighboring Afghanistan for years, saying the money was intended to aid reconstruction of the embattled country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that he receives millions of dollars in cash from Iran, adding that Washington gives him 'bags of money' too because his office lacks funds. U.S. officials said the money flowing from Tehran was further proof that Iran is playing a double game in Afghanistan - wooing the government while helping Taliban insurgents who are fighting U.S. and NATO forces. 'Iran has provided the country with plenty of help,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in his weekly news briefing in Tehran. 'Iran has helped construction of Afghanistan and the preparation of its economic infrastructure and it will pursue it in the future, too.'"

AP: "Iran on Tuesday rejected as 'suspicious' and 'diabolical' disclosures by WikiLeaks on its role in neighboring Iraq. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast charged in his weekly news briefing that the website revelations were politically motivated. 'There are serious doubts ... regarding the intentions and objectives of the disclosures,' he said. 'It has suspicious aims.' Mehmanparast said 'the claims and accusations are unacceptable. This is a diabolical move.'"

Iran Disclosure Project

Nuclear Program

"In retaliation for an agreement between the United States and European oil companies that has made it impossible for Iran's national airline to refuel its planes in most of Europe, the Islamic Republic has stopped fully providing the only British airline flying to Tehran with fuel. British Midlands International (BMI), which operates daily flights between London and Tehran, said Monday that Iranian airline authorities have stopped fully refueling their planes for about a week, forcing the airline to make stops in third countries. 'We are currently not getting all the fuel we need at Tehran's main airport,' said a spokeswoman for BMI."

AFP: "Energy giant BP is poised to close a gas field off Scotland, jointly owned with Iran, because of European sanctions over the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme, a report said Tuesday. The firm was studying a regulation banning joint investments with the Iranians that could shut down its Rhum field, which lies some 250 miles (400 kilometres) off Scotland's northeast coast, reported The Times. Senior managers were in talks about the future of the venture after a tough line against the Iranian energy sector was announced by European foreign ministers Monday, said The Times."

Reuters: "Some European oil companies are considering whether to keep buying Iranian oil in 2011, industry sources said, citing sanctions that have made financial transactions with the Islamic Republic more difficult. Portuguese oil company Galp (GALP.LS) and another European oil firm are considering whether to continue buying Iranian oil next year, the sources said. A spokesman for Galp declined to comment on the company's suppliers. Galp, a relatively small buyer of Iranian crude, scaled back its purchases earlier in 2010. While a decision to restart them in 2011 has yet to be made, an industry source doubted they would be resumed. 'I find any renewal very difficult, mostly due to political pressure,' the source said."

Haaretz: "It's only been two months since Olli Heinonen left the IAEA, where he worked for 27 years. In a first interview with an Israeli media outlet, he cautiously explains what is known about Iran's nuclear program."

Human Rights

AP: "Tehran's prosecutor said Tuesday Iran will seize the $500,000 bail posted by an American woman freed from prison last month if she does not return for the start of her trial on Nov. 6. Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi was quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying that Sarah Shourd can return to Iran and defend herself at the court. Shourd was freed after 13 months in a Tehran prison and returned to the United States. Her fiance, Shane Bauer, and their friend Josh Fattal remain in prison and all three face trial on spying charges."

Foreign Affairs

AFP: "The White House said Monday the world has 'every reason to be concerned' about Iranian influence in Afghanistan, after President Hamid Karzai admitted receiving bags of cash from Tehran. Bill Burton, the White House deputy spokesman, told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama that the administration had seen the reports about the payments made to Karzai's chief of staff. 'And I think the American people and the global community have... every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan,' he said."

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani and discussed boosting relations between the two neighbours, state media reported on Monday. Sunday's conversation between the two leaders came a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Tehran as part of a Middle East tour aimed at securing regional support for keeping his job following an inconclusive general election in March. 'I hope that with the formation of a new Iraqi government, bilateral ties will expand in different areas, especially in the economic and political fields,' state television quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Talabani."


George Friedman in STRATFOR: "Obama also has a third option, which is to shift his focus from domestic policy to foreign policy... This leaves the obvious choice: Iran. Iran is the one issue on which the president could galvanize public opinion. The Republicans have portrayed Obama as weak on combating militant Islamism. Many of the Democrats see Iran as a repressive violator of human rights, particularly after the crackdown on the Green Movement. The Arabian Peninsula, particularly Saudi Arabia, is afraid of Iran and wants the United States to do something more than provide $60 billion-worth of weapons over the next 10 years. The Israelis, obviously, are hostile. The Europeans are hostile to Iran but want to avoid escalation, unless it ends quickly and successfully and without a disruption of oil supplies. The Russians like the Iranians are a thorn in the American side, as are the Chinese, but neither would have much choice should the United States deal with Iran quickly and effectively. Moreover, the situation in Iraq would improve if Iran were to be neutralized, and the psychology in Afghanistan could also shift. If Obama were to use foreign policy to enhance his political standing through decisive action, and achieve some positive results in relations with foreign governments, the one place he could do it would be Iran."

Martin Regg Cohn in The Toronto Star: "Watching Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strutting on the world stage, it's easy to get caught up in his latest histrionics: denying the Holocaust, playing the nuclear card, and vowing during last week's visit near the Lebanese-Israeli border to wipe out the Jewish state. But to really grasp the pathological cruelty of Iran's clerical regime, look at the persecution of Iran's biggest religious minority, the 300,000-strong Baha'i community. The bizarre hounding of this peaceful faith remains a festering sore on the legacy of the 30-year-old Islamic revolution. As a few hundred Baha'is heard when they gathered for a Toronto meeting this month, the news from Iran is not good. Seven senior Baha'i community leaders were sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage and 'spreading corruption on earth.' Under intense diplomatic pressure, the sentences were recently halved to 10 years; but for some of the elderly inmates - two of whom have family in Canada - this means they have effectively been condemned to die in prison."

Alon Ben Meir in Chatam House:
"Now is the time for Turkey to help curb Iran's ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. As sanctions intensify - and before Israel or the United States seriously consider taking more coercive action against Iran's nuclear facilities - Turkey's unique position, influence and experience with Iran could be valuable. But to play such a role, Turkey must display an independent approach and pragmatic leadership to produce confidence in its meditation efforts, especially in Washington. Turkey can deliver a clear and strong message to Iran: there is indeed a way out of isolation, before it is too late. The pressure on Iran has increased significantly with the adoption in June of a fourth round of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, as well as more stringent measures, subsequently introduced by the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia. The banking and energy sectors - and Iran's revolutionary guard - have been particularly affected."

Kaveh Afrasiabi in Asia Times: "Iran and Venezuela stand continents apart. Yet as two leading members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel with mixed economies and shared foreign policy orientations, and as leading betes noires of American hegemony, their growing interdependence reflects a strategic alliance that goes well beyond their bilateral relations and, in fact, is connected to their aspirations for a 'new world order.' Thus, in his latest (ninth) trip to Tehran last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - in addition to signing a hefty nearly US$800 million investment in Iran's giant Pars Field gas sector, among 11 new economic agreements - gave timely support to his embattled Iranian counterpart."

News Analysis

Eli Lake in WT: "The largest unauthorized disclosure of classified government documents in U.S. history confirms a long-standing assertion of President George W. Bush at the start of the 2007 troop surge: Iran was orchestrating one side of the Iraqi insurgency. Field reports made public by the website WikiLeaks on Friday show that U.S. military intelligence agencies had many strands of evidence revealing that Iran provided paramilitary training to Shiite Muslim insurgents at the height of the civil war in Iraq. In one case, the military circulated a Dec. 22, 2006, warning that a group known as Jaish al-Mahdi planned to kidnap U.S. soldiers. The man planning the operation, Sheik Azhar al-Dulaimi, was trained by Hezbollah terrorists near the Iranian city of Qom, the document stated. Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based militia that was founded, trained and funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. 'This confirms the degree of operational involvement the Iranian Revolutionary Guard used in anti-U.S. operations in Iraq,' said Kenneth Katzman, a Gulf affairs specialist at the Congressional Research Service. 'It confirms the degree to which Iran was involved in operations that directly targeted U.S. forces.'"

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

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