Iran reports nuclear progress as sanctions loom
By Parisa Hafezi | Reuters – Sun, Jan 1, 2012
TEHRAN (Reuters) – – Iran announced a nuclear fuel breakthrough and test-fired a new radar-evading medium-range missile in the Gulf on Sunday, moves that could further antagonize the West at a time when Tehran is trying to avert harsh new sanctions on its oil industry.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law on Saturday imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalize Iran for a nuclear research programme that the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The move could for the first time hurt Tehran’s oil exports, and the European Union is due to consider similar steps soon.
As tensions have risen, Iran threatened last week to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow Gulf shipping lane through which 40 percent of world oil flows, if sanctions hit its oil exports.
At the same time, it signaled on Saturday that it was ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear programme.
It says the programme is completely peaceful and, in what Iranian media described as an engineering breakthrough, state television said Iran had successfully produced and tested its own uranium fuel rods for use in its nuclear power plants.
This post has been updated. See the note below for additional details
REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT — Iran said Sunday that its scientists had produced the country’s first nuclear fuel rod and its navy had test-fired a new medium-range surface-to-air missile, announcements that were likely to heighten concerns about the country’s disputed uranium-enrichment program.
The Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA, reported that the nuclear fuel rod had “passed all physical and dimensional tests” and had been inserted into the core of Tehran’s research reactor.
Iran had said that it would be forced to manufacture the rods because it is barred from buying them on foreign markets. The tubes contain pellets of enriched uranium that provide fuel for nuclear reactors.
Tension has been growing between Iran and the West since a report by the United Nations nuclear inspection agency in November expressed serious concerns about a possible military dimension to the country’s nuclear program.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear payloads for missiles. Tehran denies the charge, saying it needs the technology to generate electricity and produce radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
[Updated 3:38 p.m. Jan. 1: The State Department had no immediate comment Sunday on the Iranians’ statement that they had produced a fuel rod.
A physicist who tracks nuclear defense issues, Edwin Lyman, said the claim had “no direct relationship to weapons development” by the Iranians. However, he added, “it does say something generally about their increasing sophistication in nuclear fabrication.”
See full article at LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/01/iran-nuclear-fuel-rod-missile.html
Iran navy tests cruise missile in drill
USA Today, Janyary 2, 2012
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday during a drill that the country’s navy chief said proved Tehran was in complete control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-sixth of the world’s oil supply.
The missile, called Ghader, or Capable in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of a missile that has been in service before. The official IRNA news agency said the missile “successfully hit its intended target” during the exercise.
No other details were released about Ghader. An earlier version of the same cruise missile had a range of 124 miles (200 kilometers) and could travel at low altitudes. There were suggestions it could counter the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.
Iran’s 10-day navy drill, which ends Tuesday, was Tehran’s latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear program. The exercise came amid conflicting comments from Iranian officials over Tehran’s intentions to close the Strait of Hormuz, and U.S. warnings against such an ominous move.
“The Strait of Hormuz is completely under our control,” Iran’s navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said after Monday’s test. “We do not allow any enemy to pose threats to our interests.”
See full article at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-01-01/iran-missile-test/52318422/1
‘Iran gained success over US sanctions’
“Countering the sanctions and progress in nuclear [technology] is part of these accomplishments,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with the members of the Islamic society of Iranian students in Europe.
The Leader added this triumphant trend will not subside and will continue apace in the future.
“The enemy is repeatedly suffering defeats and setbacks, despite its all-out political, security, and political measures against the Islamic Republic,” Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated.
See full post at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/218796.html
Iran Says It Recorded U.S. Carrier’s Movements
TEHRAN, Iran—An Iranian surveillance plane has recorded video and photographed a U.S. aircraft carrier during an Iranian navy drill near a strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported on Thursday.
In Washington, meanwhile, a statement from the mother of an Iranian-American detained in Iran for four months on espionage charges said his alleged confession was made under duress.
The Tehran report about the aircraft carrier didn’t provide details, and it was unclear what information the Iranian military could glean from such footage.
See full article at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203899504577128542563309880.html
Iranian Exiles in Iraq Ready to Start Relocation
Published December 28, 2011
AP – Dec. 9, 2011: In this photo provided by the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, Iraqi police stand guard outside the opposition group’s camp northeast of Baghdad, Iraq.
The leader of an Iranian dissident group has agreed to start relocating refugees who for years have been living in precarious conditions in an Iraqi camp.
Under an agreement recently struck between the United Nations and the Iraqi government, the 3,400 Iranian exiles at a site known as Camp Ashraf will move to Camp Liberty — the former U.S. military base near Baghdad — before making arrangements to leave Iraq and resettle elsewhere.
Maryam Rajavi, the Paris-based head of the group, averted a potential showdown Wednesday by announcing that, “as a gesture of goodwill,” 400 residents at Ashraf are prepared to go to Camp Liberty “at first opportunity.” The statement was obtained by Fox News.
Iran proposes new round of nuclear talks with 6 world powers as sanctions hit hard
( YJC, Mohammad Ali Marizad / Associated Press ) – A member of the Iranian military takes position in a drill on the shore of the sea of Oman, on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. Iran’s navy chief has reiterated for a second time in less than a week that his country can easily close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a sixth of the world’s oil flows.
By Associated Press, Published: December 31
The invitation comes after new sanctions recently imposed by the West over Tehran’s enrichment of uranium, a process that produces fuel for reactors but which can also be used in making nuclear weapons. Iran insists it only has peaceful intentions, while the U.S. and many of its European allies suspect Iran of aiming to use a civilian nuclear energy program as a cover for developing a weapons capability.
The last round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany was held in January in Istanbul, Turkey, but it ended in failure.
“We formally declared to them (the intent) to return to the path of dialogue for cooperation,” Jalili told Iranian diplomats in Tehran, according to the official IRNA news agency. Jalili did not say when or through what channel he issued the invitation.
Iranian officials: Woman may be hanged instead of stoned
Tehran, Iran (CNN) — A woman sentenced to die by stoning will be executed, Iranian officials said Monday, but the method of execution is still being debated, according to an Iranian media report.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case drew international attention after she was sentenced to die by stoning for adultery.
“This lady is accused of two crimes,” Hojatoleslam Sharifi, the judiciary chief of Eastern Azarbaijan province, said at a news conference Monday, the semi-official Iran Student’s News Agency reported. “One is adultery, which is punishable by stoning to death, and the other is assisting in her husband’s murder. She is currently serving 10 years for helping to kill her husband.”
He said “we did not have the needed facility for stoning,” so officials asked the then-head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, for advice, Sharifi said. “He was too busy at the time, and this issue was left for his successor to handle.”
The current judiciary head, Ayatollah Amoli Larijani, “is of the opinion that since the objective is execution, and since stoning is not practical, the execution should be done by hanging,” he said. “However, (Larijiani) has decided to wait for now and discuss the issue with other Islamic scholars until a clear and accurate decision is reached.”
Officials have decided to await Larijani’s decision. Since Ashtiani is currently serving time, “we agreed there is no hurry,” Sharifi said.
Read full article at: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/26/world/meast/iran-woman-stoning/index.html