United Nations


WASHINGTON — The United States lost a long battle when Russia, as it announced on Monday, delivered nuclear fuel to an Iranian power plant that is at the center of an international dispute over its nuclear program. Iran, for its part, confirmed on Monday plans to build a second such plant.

In announcing that it had delivered the first fuel shipment to the power plant, at Bushehr in southern Iran, on Sunday, Russian officials said that while the fuel was in Iran, it would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring agency for the United Nations. Russia also said the Iranian government had guaranteed that the fuel would be used only for the power plant.

The Bush administration took pains not to criticize the Russian move publicly, even expressing support for outside supplies if that led Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” President Bush said Monday. “If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”

But from the American standpoint, the timing could not have been worse, coming just two weeks after the release of a United States intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The National Intelligence Estimate also concluded that Iran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, undercutting a central tenet of the Bush administration’s basis for maintaining international pressure against Iran.

Full article here.

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) — China Petrochemical Corp. signed a $2 billion agreement to develop Iran’s Yadavaran oil field, advancing prospects for a contract on the sale of liquefied natural gas to the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

The field will produce 85,000 barrels a day in four years and a further 100,000 barrels a day three years after that, China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying yesterday. Under an initial agreement in 2004, China would pay Iran as much as $100 billion over 25 years for LNG and oil and 51 percent stake in Yadavaran.

Sinopec Group, as China Petrochemical is known, hopes to talk about liquefied natural gas supplies “later,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA said today, citing Zhou Baixiu, president of Sinopec Group’s international exploration and production unit. China is “willing” to buy LNG from Iran, Zhou said.

China, a veto-holding member of the United Nations Security Council, has resisted pressure from the U.S. to isolate Iran and impose a third round of international sanctions over the country’s nuclear program. The Chinese government wants its oil and gas producers to step up their global search for energy resources to meet rising consumption, spurred by an economy that surged 11.5 percent in the third quarter.

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.

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 …

While the mainstream media continues to debate the merits of allowing Iran’s Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia and whether he gained points on us, in the final analysis … the ‘net is buzzing about Ahmadinejad’s messianic message:

This will sound alarming. A literal reading of Ahmadi-Nejad’s UN address suggests that he is predicting a total war coming soon.

The key is in his invocation and his conclusion. Normal official communications by Muslims start with, “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” A’jad followed that formula immediately with:

“Oh God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attend to his rightfulness.” [italics in the official Iranian version]

Sounds like a pretty standard invocation, but it’s not. It is a specific call for the Shiite Messiah, who will bring a final holy war, the final jihad, which in the Khomeini cult implies all-out war with the infidels to bring about the Millenarian Age of Paradise on Earth. (For Khomeini, the term “infidels” includes Sunni Muslims, who do not recognize the Mahdi). That is why Khomeini started the nuclear program twenty years ago, and why it has been pushed consistently by all the major cult leaders.

A’jad put the message explicitly in his peroration, i.e., his summary and conclusion.

“I officially declare that the age of relations arising from the Second World War as well as materialistic thought based on arrogance and domination is now over.” (italics added)

Translation: The West, and particularly the United States, emerged dominant after World War Two. Israel declared independence in 1948. The dominance of the West is now over.

A’jad’s use of the phrase “I officially declare” indicates how he views himself as Allah’s representative on earth; a very common paranoid fantasy, but one that is taught by the Khomeini cult as part of its explicit doctrine. Cult members who are otherwise quite sane can believe such things (as in the Rev. Jim Jones’ suicide cult following.)

Full article here.  Rev. Jim Jones?  That begs the question: have Ahmadinejad’s own countrymen gotten around to drinking the Kool-Aid?  Some say no:

… Mr. Ahmadinejad has nothing like Hitler’s power. He never replied to my second question: “Who really makes foreign and security policy in Iran?” Those decisions aren’t his, but are made by Iran’s supreme clerical leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s popularity is dropping at home because he hasn’t delivered on economic promises (although insults hurled at him in America may boost his standing). Many observers think he will lose in 2009 elections.

Frustrating he is, because his rhetoric inflames tensions and gives ammo to politicians who want military action. But Hitler he is not.

Full column, by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Trudy Rubin, here.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Samples of earth taken by Russians who planted a flag on the seabed below the North Pole last month show beyond doubt the Arctic is Russian, its natural resources ministry said on Thursday. The Arctic 2007 expedition was the first to plant a flag on the seabed directly below the North Pole and it symbolically claimed the area, which geologists believe is rich in minerals and energy deposits, for the Kremlin. Now Russia says the scientific evidence cements their claims and they will present it to the United Nations. Other countries aspiring to own the Arctic seabed have rushed to reiterate their own claims before a May 2009 deadline.

“We have received preliminary data from an analysis of models of the earth’s crust from Arctic 2007 which confirms that the Lomonosov Ridge … is part of the adjoining continental shelf of the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Full article here.

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