Friday, November 16, 2012

Eye on Iran: Iran May Step Up Underground Nuclear Work Soon: Diplomats

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"Iran could soon increase uranium enrichment in an underground nuclear plant, diplomats say, a development that may further complicate efforts to resolve peacefully a dispute over Tehran's atomic ambitions. Iran has nearly finished installing centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment plant buried deep inside a mountain and is believed to be in a position in the near future to significantly step up production there of material that could be used for bombs if processed further, they said. 'They should be able to (increase production) within a few weeks,' one diplomat accredited to the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday. Fordow is of particular concern for the West as Iran uses the facility to refine uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, a short technical step from bomb-grade material. The fact that it is buried deep underground also makes it less vulnerable to any air strikes, which Israel has threatened if diplomacy fails to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons capability."

TMT Finance: "South Africa's MTN is under increasing pressure from the Iranian government to sell 21% of its 49% stake in Iran's second biggest operator, MTN Irancell.  Under the original terms of the deal, ministers claim that as a foreign shareholder, MTN is required to sell off the 21% through an IPO.  According to local reports, MTN is disputing the claims, and said the condition only applied to the telco's original foreign shareholder, Turkcell, which agreed to reduce its 70% interest to 49% within three years, through an IPO... MTN owns a 49% interest in Irancell, with an Iranian state-linked consortium holding the remaining 51%. Irancell has around 40 million subscribers - or roughly 45% of the wireless market in Iran."

The Hindu: "The firing of an Iran-made Fajr-5 missile by a Gaza based Palestinian group was apparently responsible for triggering warning sirens in Tel Aviv, which were last heard during the first Gulf war 20 years ago. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing the Fajr missile towards Tel Aviv. In a brief statement, the group said that it had 'widened the range of the battle to reach Tel Aviv and what is coming will be greater'. According to the Jerusalem Post, two booms were heard shortly after the sirens went off. Another Israeli daily, Haaretz reported on its website that rockets had landed in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv."
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Nuclear Program   

AP: "Iran is on the threshold of being able to create weapons-grade uranium at a plant it has heavily fortified against Israeli attack, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday, calling into question an Israeli claim that Iran had slowed its nuclear time table. One of three diplomats who discussed the issue said Iran was now technically ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium at its Fordo facility by nearly 700 centrifuges. That would double present output, and cut in half the time it would take to acquire enough of the substance needed to make a nuclear weapon, reducing it to just over three months. Such a move would raise the stakes for Israel, which has said it believes the world has until next summer to stop Iran before it can get nuclear material and implied it would have time to decide whether to strike Fordo and other Iranian nuclear facilities. The two other diplomats who spoke to the AP could not confirm the 700 number. But both agreed that Tehran over the past few months had put a sizeable number of centrifuges at Fordo under vacuum. It takes only a few days to begin enrichment with machines that are under vacuum."

Reuters: "Major powers will discuss negotiating strategy towards Iran next Wednesday amid signs of a renewed push to resolve the nuclear dispute peacefully after U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election last week. Obama and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator this week have separately made clear their desire to resume diplomacy that has been deadlocked since a meeting between six world powers and Iran ended without a breakthrough in June. Obama's November 6 election victory raised hopes of a revival of negotiations after speculation that Israel might strike Iranian nuclear facilities. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will host a meeting of representatives of the six powers in Brussels on Wednesday, as part of efforts to dissuade Iran from its nuclear program, a spokeswoman for Ashton said on Thursday. 'This is part of the ongoing ... consultations to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue,' the spokeswoman said, giving no further detail."


"An Iranian man has been indicted in New York on charges that he plotted to illegally export military and civilian aircraft parts from the United States to Iran. Alireza Moazami Goudarzi was charged in an indictment returned Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. The 28-year-old man was arrested by Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Oct. 24. Authorities say he's in Malaysian custody pending extradition proceedings. It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Goudarzi brazenly discussed a willingness to pay higher prices for military-grade aircraft parts to dodge an embargo affecting Iran."

Human Rights

Guardian: "'Why is it that in our country political prisoners go to jail vertically but return horizontally?' asked Iranian MP Ahmad Bakhshayesh as he addressed the parliament on Wednesday, criticising the judicial officials for their handling of a blogger's death in custody. Sattar Beheshti was a 35-year-old worker from a relatively lower-class family in the city of Robat-Karim who simply dabbled in blogging, finding it a useful (if not the only) platform available in Iran to speak out about the human rights violations committed by the rulers of his country. Iran's cyber-police force, known as Fata, which is assigned to track down online crimes (and dissidents), initially resorted to issuing threats to make him reconsider his online activities. When it failed to silence Beheshti, it sent some of its members to pick him up from his home on accusations that he was acting against the national security on Facebook."

Reuters: "U.N. human rights experts called on Iran on Thursday to say how Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti died in police custody. In a case that sparked international outrage, Beheshti who wrote a blog critical of the government, was arrested on October 30 and died some days later after saying he had received death threats and was being tortured in jail. 'It is imperative that people who are potentially involved in committing such gruesome crimes are investigated and brought to justice, as failure to do so promotes a culture of impunity,' said Ahmed Shaheed, special U.N. rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Shaheed and other U.N. experts welcomed Iran's decision to investigate the 35-year-old's death and said the findings should be made public."

RFE/RL: "Lawmakers in Iran are preparing to consider legislation that may drastically alter an adult woman's ability to obtain a passport and travel outside the country. The draft law, set to go before the 290-seat Majlis, stipulates that single women up to the age of 40 must receive official permission from their father or male guardian in order to obtain travel documents. Under current law, all Iranians under 18 years of age -- both male and female -- must receive paternal permission before receiving a passport. Married women must receive their husband's approval to receive the documents. The proposal is expected to find support in the conservative Majlis."

Foreign Affairs

Reuters: "Turkmenistan has resumed gas supplies to Iran after a brief stoppage for repairs along a stretch of pipeline linking the two countries, the head of Turkmenistan's state gas company told Reuters on Friday. Iran buys almost a third of Turkmenistan's exported gas, relying on it for heating in winter and using it year round to meet industrial demand in regions distant from the country's own fields clustered around the Gulf. Turkmengaz Chairman Sahatmurad Mamedov said Iran had requested the halt. He denied an Iranian news report on November 14 that the former Soviet republic and Iran were in a dispute over pricing."

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

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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