Nuclear Annihilation

President Bush confronted questions today about the existence of a report saying that Iran had suspended its nuclear program in 2003:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President George W. Bush said Tuesday that Iran remains a danger and refused to rule out a military attack, despite a US intelligence report saying Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

“The best diplomacy, effective diplomacy, is one in which all options are on the table,” Bush said one day after the new intelligence assessment which has reopened the international controversy over Iran’s disputed program.

Iran said the US report had vindicated its stance, while UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the document could help defuse tensions though he added that Iran must step up cooperation with his agency.

Bush was adamant. “Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” he told a White House press conference.

Full article here.  Meanwhile, at the summit of Gulf leaders in Doha, Qatar, Ahmadinejad attempted, not altogether effectively, to shore up his ties with Arab States:

DOHA (Reuters) – Iran went on a charm offensive in Qatar on Monday, hailing its debut presence at a summit of Gulf leaders as ushering in a new era of regional ties, but its Arab neighbours offered no immediate matching welcome.

In contrast to lengthy statements to reporters by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, U.S-allied Gulf Arab leaders were yet to react to Iran’s proposals for greater cooperation on economic and security issues at the two-day summit.

Iranian officials deflected questions regarding Gulf input into defusing the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“This era has changed and the time of threats has ended…Iran has chosen its path and from our point of view the nuclear issue has ended,” Ahmadinejad told reporters, referring to the West’s plans to impose further sanctions on Iran.

See full article here.


TEHRAN, Nov 15, 2007 (AFP) — Iran’s moderates are intensifying criticism of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, landing their first blows in a bitter political fight ahead of elections next year.

The moderate heavyweights Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have been unusually explicit in their criticism of Ahmadinejad’s economic policies and his analysis of the threat posed by the United States.

Ahmadinejad has shot back using language colourful even by his standards, warning he would expose “traitors” in the nuclear standoff and accusing critics of “being less intelligent than a goat”.

The sharp rhetoric is the upshot of concerns over the mounting international crisis over the Iranian nuclear programme and a sign of the proximity of legislative elections on March 14.

There is exasperation among moderates over Ahmadinejad’s brushing-off of UN sanctions action as just “pieces of paper” and his refusal to even countenance the possibility of a US military attack.

Full article here.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains officially optimistic on talks with Iran:

TEHRAN (Reuters) – A U.N. nuclear agency official described cooperation with Iran as “good” ahead of talks on Monday about Tehran’s atomic work, after an Iranian warning that new U.S. sanctions could harm ties.

Iranian news agencies quoted Olli Heinonen, deputy director of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as making the brief comment upon arrival in Tehran for a new round of negotiations with senior Iranian officials.

Iran and the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog agreed in August on a timetable to answer outstanding IAEA questions about the nuclear programme, prompting world powers to postpone a third round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran until at least November.

Full article here. Meanwhile, an unnamed Palestinian intelligence officials forecasts a U.S. attack, supported by some Arab nations with an Israeli deal on the West Bank, if there is no diplomatic progress:

A senior Palestinian intelligence official said that based on meetings with American diplomats he “understood” the US plans to target Iran’s suspected nuclear installations in two to three months if negotiations with Tehran don’t generate a major breakthrough.

The official, speaking to WND yesterday on condition of anonymity, said according to what he “understood,” the US will “pay” for Arab support for a US strike against Iran by creating a temporary Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank by next summer.

The official met last week with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her trip here earlier this month to prepare for a US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian summit slated for next month in which Israel is expected to outline a future

Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in recent weeks hinted at willingness to give away sections of Jerusalem.

Full article here.

The United States will Thursday order sanctions against the Iranian military, media reports said a day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice singled out Iran as the biggest threat to US security.Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are to designate Iran’s elite Quds force as a supporter of terrorism and its Revolutionary Guards as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, triggering economic sanctions, the Washington Post and New York Times reported.

The sanctions allow efforts to financially isolate Iran’s military and press hundreds of foreign companies doing business with it to back out or risk US sanctions, the newspapers reported.

These will be the broadest sanctions imposed on Iran since the country’s Islamic revolution in 1979 and comes as the international community is embroiled in a mounting standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Full article here. The announcement comes after this weekend’s surprising news that Ali Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, had been removed from his post by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Larijani’s removal was jarring, in part, because it seemed to signal that hard-liners in the Iranian government were asserting their control over the nuclear issue; Larijani is widely seen as a moderate who desired constructive dialogue with the United States.

Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the European Union, suggests that the hard-liners might nevertheless be having a hard time taking control of the nuclear issue:

Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator, replaced this weekend in a surprise announcement in Tehran, nevertheless maintained his authority and leadership in talks with the EU in Rome, the European Union foreign policy chief was quoted as saying Thursday.

The EU’s Javier Solana met with Ali Larijani, the former negotiator, and his successor, Saeed Jalili, for a session in Rome Tuesday. The three met again briefly on Wednesday.

“Here I found the same Larijani I had met before, and he had the role of chief negotiator,” Solana was quoted as saying in an interview with Rome daily La Repubblica.

“I have to say that the meeting was chiefly with Larijani, who clearly was the group leader and maintained his authority and the leadership in the negotiations,” added Solana.

During a news conference, too, Larijani took the lead in fielding questions from reporters.

Full article here.

Sometimes, when you’re cranky, and your approval ratings are in the dumpster, the words just tumble out of your mouth:

WASHINGTON – President Bush warned on Wednesday a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III as he tried to shore up international opposition to Tehran amid Russian skepticism over its nuclear ambitions.

Bush was speaking a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin who has resisted Western pressure to toughen his stance over Iran’s nuclear program, made clear on a visit to Tehran that Russia would not accept any military action against Iran.

Full article here.

Better to be cranky at a press conference than in a meeting with the Joint Chiefs.

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Iran must be encouraged to make its nuclear program fully transparent, but also underscored there is no proof it is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

”We are sharing our partners’ concern about making all Iranian programs transparent,” Putin said at a news conference after talks with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy. ”We agreed yesterday, and Mr. President confirmed it, that Iran is making certain steps toward international community to achieve that.”

Putin is to make his first visit to Iran early next week for a summit of Caspian Sea nations.

Sarkozy said Putin’s trip to Tehran could encourage Iran to be more cooperative. ”After the trip, there could be a will to cooperate — that is essential,” he said.

Russia has opposed the U.S.-push for tougher sanctions against Iran and called for more checks and inspections of Iranian facilities by an international nuclear watchdog.

”We have worked cooperatively with our partners at the United Nations Security Council, and we intend to continue such cooperative work in the future,” Putin said.

But he said with no ”objective data” showing Iran is developing nuclear weapons, ”we proceed from an assumption that Iran has no such plans.”

Full article here (login required). The cozier these two nations get, the more I wonder …

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said enriched uranium is ready for transportation from Russia to its nuclear power plant at Bushehr, according to the AP citing Iranian state television. The announcement follows talks between Mottaki and Russia’s Sergei Kiriyenko, the Head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, in Moscow regarding delays in completing the $1bn joint Iranian-Russian plant. Russia has blamed a lack of payments by Iran for the delays.

Via AMEInfo.

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