Friday, February 25, 2011

Eye on Iran: AP Exclusive: Iran Hunts for Uranium

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AP: "Iran is expanding its covert global search for the uranium it needs for its nuclear activities and a key focus is Zimbabwe, says a new intelligence report acquired by The Associated Press. The report is in line with international assessments that Iran's domestic supplies cannot sustain its nuclear program that could be turned toward making weapons. An intelligence report from a member country of the International Atomic Energy Agency - shared with the AP by an official from that nation - says Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met secretly last month with senior Zimbabwean mining officials 'to resume negotiations ... for the benefit of Iran's uranium procurement plan.' 'This follows work carried out by Iranian engineers to map out uranium deposits in Africa and assess the amount of uranium they contain,' said the two-page intelligence summary."

WSJ: "Iran's opposition announced a plan for nationwide street protests every Tuesday for the next three weeks as a way to increase pressure on the government. The Green Movement's Organization Committee, which is based abroad and organizes protests via the Internet, said Thursday that the plan for 'Tuesdays of Protest' was a result of consultations with advisers and suggestions from supporters inside Iran who wanted to keep the protests' momentum going. A statement published on opposition websites said that protests would continue and move to other phases such as sit-ins, strikes, boycotts and civil resistance. Iran's opposition has appeared invigorated in recent weeks amid the wave of Arab pro-democracy uprisings. The collapse of the governments in Tunisia and Egypt, and the unrest in Libya, has stirred many Iranians to push for change. 'People want to witness what happened in Tunisia and Egypt in Iran as well,' said prominent film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a member of the opposition committee, in a video message to Iranians on Thursday. 'Protesting every week will challenge the regime and in the future these weekly protests will turn into daily events.'"

Reuters: "Iran is taking advantage of Libya's turmoil and dwindling exports to sell more crude that it has found difficult to offload due to economic sanctions. Unrest in Libya has slashed a big chunk of its crude oil output of 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), with estimates of capacity shut down ranging from 500,000 to 1.2 million bpd. Ahmad Ghalebani, Iranian deputy oil minister, said on Friday Iran had already seen an increase in demand following political upheaval in the Arab world. 'Demand for Iran's oil has increased,' Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Ghalebani as saying. Italian oil refiner Saras SpA, traditionally a big buyer of Libyan crude oil, said in a Reuters interview on Friday that it was looking at replacing oil shipments from Libya and had already slightly increased sour crude supplies from Iran."

Iran Disclosure Project

Nuclear Program & Sanctions

"An Iranian arms shipment seized in Nigeria last year, which Tehran says was part of a legitimate trade deal with Gambia, was illegally exported regardless of its destination, Nigeria's foreign minister said. Nigeria reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council in November for an apparent breach of U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme. Tehran said the shipment was part of a legitimate sale by a private company to Gambia. 'We're part of an international community, we signed on to a resolution that approves sanctions and one of the sanctions was the transportation of arms and ammunition from Iran,' Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia told Reuters on Thursday. 'Whether it was destined for Nigeria or Gambia or anywhere else it was an illegal shipment and therefore we had obligations under international law and under our obligations to the United Nations to do what we did.' The weapons included assorted calibres of mortars and 107mm rockets -- designed to attack static targets and used by armies to support infantry units -- and shells for a 23mm anti-aircraft gun, hidden in containers marked building materials."

Bloomberg: "A forensic examination of bullets used by rebels in Senegal's separatist province Casamance showed that Iran had supplied the weapons, President Abdoulaye Wade said at a ministerial meeting yesterday, according to the minutes of that meeting e-mailed by the Communication Ministry. The West African nation, a member state in the Organization of Islamic Countries, broke ties with Iran on Feb. 23."

WSJ: "India is working out an arrangement through Deutsche Bundesbank, or the German Central Bank, to pay Iran for crude oil purchases, an Indian government statement said Friday. The statement was issued after a meeting between Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Iran Finance Minister Seyed Shamseddin Hosseini Thursday. Mr. Mukherjee has assured India would like to make the payment due to Iran, especially on purchase of oil and oil products, as expeditiously as possible, the statement said. India has been negotiating a payment mechanism with Iran since December, when the South Asian nation's central bank stopped Iran-related payments through a financial clearing house that Washington believes Tehran is using to evade international sanctions."

Human Rights

Reuters: "The United States is quietly lobbying to establish a United Nations special investigator on human rights abuses in Iran, for the first time in a decade, diplomats and activists said Thursday. The U.S. delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Council has sought support from countries in all regions for a draft resolution that would put Iran's government back in the international limelight for alleged violations, they added... 'The Americans are fairly determined to have a mandate created for a special rapporteur on the situation in Iran. It would be a strong symbolic and political signal,' said one Western envoy."

Foreign Affairs

AP: "Iran's intelligence minister says authorities have arrested an Iranian that he says was working for the CIA. Heidar Moslehi told state TV Thursday that the person had links with the U.S. spy agency and allegedly set up a network of aides to gather information during anti-government protests last week. He did not identify the alleged CIA agent but said the person was arrested Feb. 14 after a period of surveillance."

& Analysis

David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy: "Thursday's New York Times contains an article quoting various 'regional experts' as saying that the current upheaval in the region is playing into the hands of Iran. This is a flawed analysis on several levels. First, we are so early in this process that it is premature to say who will benefit from or be damaged by it. It is still too early to know how many states will be affected or what the effects of the revolutions will be. Several scenarios are plausible. In one, prolonged upheaval, Iran may benefit as the alliance that existed against it is compromised. In another, a shift to democracy, Iran may or may not benefit depending on the orientation of the government, but in all likelihood it would be damaged as more democratic governments are likely to be both more open to the rest of the world and an inspiration to the repressed people of Iran. In a third, a new generation of strongmen emerges, you could theoretically have pro-Iranian Islamic states take hold, but the reality is, given the long-term history of Iran within the region, old anti-Iranian alliances would recoalesce. This is especially true because new regimes would likely have large military components comprising experienced officers who have been in anti-Iranian stance throughout their careers. Iran is certainly working to take advantage of the current uncertainty, using Hezbollah, Hamas, and related networks to promote both the instability it seeks and voices that it considers friendly. But Iran is not, and cannot ever be, 'of' the Arab world. The cultural and historic barriers are too great. And therefore, the notion of it somehow creating an enduring network of states aligned to it is far-fetched. This point about Iran however, does bring into focus a bigger point about the nature and future of the remarkable wave of revolutions currently sweeping across the region. Just as Iran is in the Middle East without being, in the minds of its Arab neighbors, a real part of their world, so too has the great problem of the Middle East at large been that for a variety of historical, political, and cultural reasons it has been in the world without having been of it."

Robert Tait in Radio Farda: "On first glance, it looks like an archetypal no-brainer; a large Middle Eastern country with a repressive regime and a simmering, angry protest movement. Twice in the past fortnight, that movement -- encouraged by events in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere -- has come out of hibernation to stage its first demonstrations in a year, albeit only to be met by crushing crackdowns. Yet surely it's only a matter of time before Iran is afflicted by the wave of revolt that has shaken the Arab world. Closer inspection, however, suggests the assumption may be wishful thinking on the part of the Islamic republic's adversaries. Indeed, rather than awaiting its turn to be overthrown, Iran's theocratic regime may already have proven itself stronger than many of its Arab counterparts when it successfully snuffed out the mass protests over President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's bitterly disputed reelection in 2009. Far from showing signs of panic, the Iranian authorities have publicly hailed the Arab rebellions as a vindication of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought them to power. Ahmadinejad gave voice to this confidence on February 23 when he condemned the brutal attempts of the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi, to suppress the rebellion against his rule and called on leaders in other Arab states to listen to their people. 'I seriously want all heads of states to pay attention to their people and cooperate, to sit down and talk, and listen to their words. Why do they act so badly that their people need to put pressure on for reforms?' he told a news conference in Tehran."

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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