Archive for July 8, 2019

Nuclear watchdog confirms Iran breached uranium enrichment cap 

July 8, 2019

Source: Nuclear watchdog confirms Iran breached uranium enrichment cap | The Times of Israel

Netanyahu says Tehran seeking to signal it could move towards a bomb, adding that it would take several years and Israel will ‘make sure it doesn’t happen’

Illustrative. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors (2nd and 3rd left) and Iranian technicians at Natanz nuclear power plant, south of Tehran, on January 20, 2014. (Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP/File)

Illustrative. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors (2nd and 3rd left) and Iranian technicians at Natanz nuclear power plant, south of Tehran, on January 20, 2014. (Kazem Ghane/IRNA/AFP/File)

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran has enriched uranium at a level higher than the limit set in a 2015 international pact.

Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, on July 8, “verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67 percent U-235,” the IAEA said in a statement, hours after Tehran said it had exceeded the agreed cap and reached 4.5% enrichment in response to the United States withdrawing from the deal.

The Iranian violations of the 2015 agreement are to be the subject of an extraordinary meeting of the governors of the IAEA at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna on Wednesday.

Iran also said it would consider going to 20% or higher, rapidly bringing its program closer to weapons-grade levels.

Iranian nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi confirmed in a state television interview that Iran had surpassed the 3.67% enrichment cap set by the faltering deal.

Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. (AP/ Vahid Salemi)

“This morning Iran passed the 4.5% level in uranium enrichment,” Kamalvandi said, according to the semi-official ISNA News Agency. “This level of purity completely satisfies the power plant fuel requirements of the country.”

He said the next and third stage in abandoning the agreement could be increasing uranium enrichment to 20% or more. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts, as 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Behrouz also suggested Iran could use new or more centrifuges, which are also limited by the deal.

He said Iran surpassed the 3.67% cap on Sunday, after waiting a year for the other parties in the agreement to honor their commitments in the wake of the American pullout from the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Iran “was trying right now to cross the line… They are trying to signal through small steps that they will move towards a bomb… It will take them a few years if they want that, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. June 27, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Speaking during a live Q&A session on Facebook, the prime minister said “The big question is not what our policy is, because nothing has changed there,” and called on European leaders to enact sanctions on Tehran.

He also asserted that it was thanks to his actions on the world stage that Iran did not have “100 nuclear bombs by now.”

Later Monday, he called for the international community to ratchet up pressure on Iran.

“They attack tankers, they down American drones, they’re firing missiles at their neighbors. It’s important to respond to these actions not by reducing the pressure, but by increasing the pressure,” he told Pastor John Hagee by video link at the Christians United For Israel Conference.

The future of the pact has been in doubt since US President Donald Trump unilaterally exited a year ago, and reimposed the harsh sanctions that the deal had lifted.

While Iran’s recent measures to increase enrichment and break its low-enriched uranium stockpile limit could be easily reversed, Europe has struggled to respond, even after getting a 60-day warning that the increase was coming.

Under the nuclear deal, the cap for enrichment was set at 3.67%, a percentage closely monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. The IAEA said it was waiting for a report from its inspectors before commenting on Iran’s move.

The decision to ramp up uranium enrichment purity came less than a week after Iran acknowledged breaking the deal’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile. Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile could begin to narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said his country remained open to diplomacy to save the agreement, though it had “no hope” that the international community could salvage the deal.

 

VP Pence: ‘No More Pallets of Cash for Iran’s Mullahs’

July 8, 2019

 

 

 

Iran’s nuclear enrichment game – Analysis 

July 8, 2019

Source: Iran’s nuclear enrichment game – Analysis – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Nuclear issue appears more like a means to an end, not the end

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN

 

 JULY 8, 2019 17:59
M302 rockets found aboard the Klos C ship are displayed at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resor

In those business sections of bookstores where there are often books on “how to negotiate,” there should be a new book added that examines Iran’s negotiating strategy regarding its nuclear program.

Since Tehran successfully negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it has also successfully put the Western powers on the defensive regarding its ambitions. This is not just about Iran getting a nuclear bomb, but really about Iran getting everything else it wants, including financial incentives and foreign policy incentives not to build a bomb.

This strategy was on display this week when Iran said that European countries had not met its demands, and that a 60-day ultimatum that the Islamic republic put out in May had not been met. What Tehran did in essence was give the Europeans a year to come up with a way to help it avoid a reimposition of US sanctions, which increased after America left the Iran deal in May 2018.

When May 2019 came around and the European countries had still not created a financial mechanism to help Iran avoid the biting US sanctions, Iran decided to move forward with its “good cop, bad cop” strategy.

Let’s recall that the Iran deal was entered into by the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union. For Iran, the issue is not Russia, China or the US – it already has amicable relations with China and Russia, made clear by meetings last month in Central Asia, and the US and Iran are at odds under the Trump administration. For Tehran then the issues with Washington are sunk costs; it isn’t yet willing to re-negotiate the deal. The US has said that “maximum pressure” in terms of sanctions will result until Iran comes begging.

So Iran, which won’t beg or bend, eyes the European countries as the weakest link in the Iran deal framework. The UK is in the middle of Brexit chaos, so France and Germany are thus the addresses to whom Iran is writing.

Tehran first said this week that it would begin enriching uranium to 4.5%, surpassing a 3.67% limit. Now, unsurprisingly, it has said via its Press TV that it could reach 20% uranium enrichment if the Europeans don’t get on board. “Twenty percent is not needed now,” said the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization’s Behrouz Kamalvandi. “But if we want, we will produce it.”

LET’S STEP back a moment and try to understand what’s going on in Iran’s mindset. Usually the Iran deal is seen solely through a Western lens. For instance, the widespread narrative in the US in 2015 was that if there was no deal there would be war. That was largely a talking point advanced by Tehran’s supporters, who provided the Western public with this stark choice: a deal or war. Since Western countries obviously don’t want war, they will choose a deal.

This is part of the Iranian “good cop, bad cop” strategy of always claiming that if the US or Western countries don’t do what Iran wants, then “hard-liners” will come to power. However, when Iran speaks to China or Russia, it doesn’t mention any hard-liners – and reports in Russia don’t seem to indicate that if Iran doesn’t get what it wants then such hard-liners will take over.

The reason that Iran, usually through surrogates, emphasizes the existence of “hard liners” is to play into a Western mindset that views the world as revolving around what Western countries do. The reality in Tehran is that the system which appears to be in place – of its Foreign Ministry feigning being a “moderate” institution while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or the Supreme Leader are “hard-liners” – is just a front for the fact that they are all just aspects of the same government working in concert.

Iran’s second negotiating tactic is to use the nuclear threat as a bargaining chip. This is interesting because Iran’s official position is that it wants only peaceful nuclear energy, and that it has even passed a religious edict against developing nuclear weapons. So if there is a religious edict and the enrichment is just for energy, then why use it as a cudgel to threaten others? If, as Iran says, the 20% is not “needed now,” then it is clear that the enrichment is just a path to get other things Iran wants. According to ABC News, the higher levels of enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium could “narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb.”

THIS PRESENTS a situation where Iran’s bogeyman atomic bomb is always hanging over the countries that negotiated the deal. From Tehran’s perspective, this is an excellent place to be – because anytime it wants something, it can just threaten to narrow the relatively short window it needs to get to a bomb.

But what if the reality is more complex. Iran’s real goal is to continue expanding its conventional military arsenal, such as drones and ballistic missiles, and it wants to dominate its “near abroad” – a series of countries that make up an arc of Iranian influence from Lebanon to Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The nuclear issue appears more like a means to an end, not the end. Iran doesn’t view the bomb as the end, but merely the way to get what and where it wants, with or without the bomb. It appears that Tehran has been largely successful without needing to make a nuclear weapon, which anyway is a complex task. Even if Iran made a bomb, it would need to test it.

Iran’s goal now is to use the enrichment level as a way to slowly ratchet up its carrot-and-stick approach. It has targeted several countries with this threat, particularly France and Germany. Tehran knows that none of these countries wants conflict, and will do whatever is necessary to try to talk down the US from such a conflict. The Iranian’s goal is to get these countries to go to bat for them. Tehran seeks to present Washington as isolated and irrational, while presenting itself as a more logical power.

But Iran’s current attempts at enrichment will cause its supporters some concern, because eventually it will lead to questions about what Iran’s real goal is with such enrichment. If it is just enriching for enrichment’s sake, while its real goal is to get around sanctions, then it will be seen as needlessly threatening others using a complex charade.

And someone may also ask why Iran would have a religious edict against a weapon, while also threatening to enrich toward the objective of building a bomb that Iran doesn’t even want.

 

Iran’s nuclear enrichment game – Analysis

July 8, 2019

Source: Iran’snuclear enrichment game – Analysis – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Nuclear issue appears more like a means to an end, not the end

BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN

 

 JULY 8, 2019 17:59
M302 rockets found aboard the Klos C ship are displayed at an Israeli navy base in the Red Sea resor

In those business sections of bookstores where there are often books on “how to negotiate,” there should be a new book added that examines Iran’s negotiating strategy regarding its nuclear program.

Since Tehran successfully negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it has also successfully put the Western powers on the defensive regarding its ambitions. This is not just about Iran getting a nuclear bomb, but really about Iran getting everything else it wants, including financial incentives and foreign policy incentives not to build a bomb.

This strategy was on display this week when Iran said that European countries had not met its demands, and that a 60-day ultimatum that the Islamic republic put out in May had not been met. What Tehran did in essence was give the Europeans a year to come up with a way to help it avoid a reimposition of US sanctions, which increased after America left the Iran deal in May 2018.

When May 2019 came around and the European countries had still not created a financial mechanism to help Iran avoid the biting US sanctions, Iran decided to move forward with its “good cop, bad cop” strategy.

Let’s recall that the Iran deal was entered into by the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union. For Iran, the issue is not Russia, China or the US – it already has amicable relations with China and Russia, made clear by meetings last month in Central Asia, and the US and Iran are at odds under the Trump administration. For Tehran then the issues with Washington are sunk costs; it isn’t yet willing to re-negotiate the deal. The US has said that “maximum pressure” in terms of sanctions will result until Iran comes begging.

So Iran, which won’t beg or bend, eyes the European countries as the weakest link in the Iran deal framework. The UK is in the middle of Brexit chaos, so France and Germany are thus the addresses to whom Iran is writing.

Tehran first said this week that it would begin enriching uranium to 4.5%, surpassing a 3.67% limit. Now, unsurprisingly, it has said via its Press TV that it could reach 20% uranium enrichment if the Europeans don’t get on board. “Twenty percent is not needed now,” said the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization’s Behrouz Kamalvandi. “But if we want, we will produce it.”

LET’S STEP back a moment and try to understand what’s going on in Iran’s mindset. Usually the Iran deal is seen solely through a Western lens. For instance, the widespread narrative in the US in 2015 was that if there was no deal there would be war. That was largely a talking point advanced by Tehran’s supporters, who provided the Western public with this stark choice: a deal or war. Since Western countries obviously don’t want war, they will choose a deal.

This is part of the Iranian “good cop, bad cop” strategy of always claiming that if the US or Western countries don’t do what Iran wants, then “hard-liners” will come to power. However, when Iran speaks to China or Russia, it doesn’t mention any hard-liners – and reports in Russia don’t seem to indicate that if Iran doesn’t get what it wants then such hard-liners will take over.

The reason that Iran, usually through surrogates, emphasizes the existence of “hard liners” is to play into a Western mindset that views the world as revolving around what Western countries do. The reality in Tehran is that the system which appears to be in place – of its Foreign Ministry feigning being a “moderate” institution while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or the Supreme Leader are “hard-liners” – is just a front for the fact that they are all just aspects of the same government working in concert.

Iran’s second negotiating tactic is to use the nuclear threat as a bargaining chip. This is interesting because Iran’s official position is that it wants only peaceful nuclear energy, and that it has even passed a religious edict against developing nuclear weapons. So if there is a religious edict and the enrichment is just for energy, then why use it as a cudgel to threaten others? If, as Iran says, the 20% is not “needed now,” then it is clear that the enrichment is just a path to get other things Iran wants. According to ABC News, the higher levels of enrichment and stockpiles of enriched uranium could “narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb.”

THIS PRESENTS a situation where Iran’s bogeyman atomic bomb is always hanging over the countries that negotiated the deal. From Tehran’s perspective, this is an excellent place to be – because anytime it wants something, it can just threaten to narrow the relatively short window it needs to get to a bomb.

But what if the reality is more complex. Iran’s real goal is to continue expanding its conventional military arsenal, such as drones and ballistic missiles, and it wants to dominate its “near abroad” – a series of countries that make up an arc of Iranian influence from Lebanon to Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The nuclear issue appears more like a means to an end, not the end. Iran doesn’t view the bomb as the end, but merely the way to get what and where it wants, with or without the bomb. It appears that Tehran has been largely successful without needing to make a nuclear weapon, which anyway is a complex task. Even if Iran made a bomb, it would need to test it.

Iran’s goal now is to use the enrichment level as a way to slowly ratchet up its carrot-and-stick approach. It has targeted several countries with this threat, particularly France and Germany. Tehran knows that none of these countries wants conflict, and will do whatever is necessary to try to talk down the US from such a conflict. The Iranian’s goal is to get these countries to go to bat for them. Tehran seeks to present Washington as isolated and irrational, while presenting itself as a more logical power.

But Iran’s current attempts at enrichment will cause its supporters some concern, because eventually it will lead to questions about what Iran’s real goal is with such enrichment. If it is just enriching for enrichment’s sake, while its real goal is to get around sanctions, then it will be seen as needlessly threatening others using a complex charade.

And someone may also ask why Iran would have a religious edict against a weapon, while also threatening to enrich toward the objective of building a bomb that Iran doesn’t even want.

 

Netanyahu and Putin discuss ‘further coordination’ on Iran, Syria

July 8, 2019

Source: Netanyahu and Putin discuss ‘further coordination’ on Iran, Syria | The Times of Israel

Russian leader invites PM to visit Moscow next year to mark 75th anniversary of the end of World War II

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 4, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 4, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss Syria, Iran and other issues, according to statements from the two leaders’ offices.

The Russian statement said Putin invited Netanyahu to Moscow to participate in “celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” or World War II. The day will be marked in Russia on May 9, 2020.

The call was initiated by Netanyahu, who took the opportunity to express condolences for the deaths of 14 Russian sailors, seven of them senior officers, in a submarine fire in the Barents Sea on July 1.

The Russian statement said the two discussed “Russian-Israeli cooperation on the Syria issue” following up on the trilateral meeting of national security advisers from Russia, Israel and the United States on June 25 — “in particular, the importance of further coordination between militaries.”

A short statement from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem stated that the two men discussed “Iran, Syria, and relations between the countries.”

The phone call came as Iran announced that it would consider going to 20 percent or higher uranium enrichment as its next step in rolling back the commitments it made under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, rapidly bringing its program closer to weapons-grade levels.

Nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi confirmed in a state television interview Monday that Iran had surpassed the 3.67% enrichment cap set by the faltering deal. That development came a day after Iran announced that it would soon push past the 3.67% limit and possibly enrich uranium to any purity it desired.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US national security adviser John Bolton (second left), Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council (right) and Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat (left) pose for a picture at a trilateral meeting at the Orient Hotel in Jerusalem on June 25, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton\Flash90)

The June 25 trilateral conference of Israeli, Russian, and US national security advisers was the first event of its kind to be held in Jerusalem and, according to Israel, was aimed specifically at countering Iran, including both its nuclear aspirations and its influence throughout the Middle East.

At the meeting, Russia’s national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, spoke out on behalf of Iran, backing Tehran’s claims against the United States and supporting the Islamic Republic’s ongoing military presence in Syria, which Israel sees as a threat to its security.

Netanyahu told Patrushev ahead of the meeting that “Israel won’t allow an Iran that calls for our annihilation to entrench itself on our border, and we will do anything it takes to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Israel has long sought Russian backing for its demand that Iranian forces leave Syria upon the conclusion of the country’s civil war. Iran and its military proxies are helping the Syrian regime end the civil war but Israel is concerned that Tehran is using the opportunity to establish forward bases in Syria from which to attack the Jewish state.

Israel has vowed to prevent the entrenchment and has carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria against alleged Iran-linked military targets.

Russia, which maintains close ties to both Israel and Iran, is seen as a potential interlocutor between the West and Tehran.

 

Iran breaks deal’s 3.67% enrichment cap, warns it could go to 20% or higher

July 8, 2019

Source: Iran breaks deal’s 3.67% enrichment cap, warns it could go to 20% or higher | The Times of Israel

Tehran confirms surpassing limit set by nuclear agreement as foreign ministry gives Europe 60 days to salvage 2015 pact

In this February 3, 2007, file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iran on Monday said it would consider going to 20 percent or higher uranium enrichment as its next step in rolling back the commitments it made under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, rapidly bringing its program closer to weapons-grade levels.

Nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi confirmed in a state television interview that Iran had surpassed the 3.67% enrichment cap set by the faltering deal.

“This morning Iran passed the 4.5% level in uranium enrichment,” Kamalvandi said, according to the semi-official ISNA News Agency. “This level of purity completely satisfies the power plant fuel requirements of the country.”

He said the next and third stage in abandoning the agreement could be increasing uranium enrichment to 20% or more. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts, as 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Behrouz also suggested Iran could use new or more centrifuges, which are also limited by the deal.

He said Iran surpassed the 3.67% cap on Sunday after waiting a year for the other parties in the agreement to honor their commitments in the wake of the American pullout from the deal.

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on July 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

The future of the pact has been in doubt since US President Donald Trump unilaterally exited a year ago and reimposed the harsh sanctions the deal had lifted.

While Iran’s recent measures to increase enrichment and break its low-enriched uranium stockpile limit could be easily reversed, Europe has struggled to respond, even after getting a 60-day warning that the increase was coming.

Under the nuclear deal, the cap for enrichment was set at 3.67%, a percentage closely monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. The IAEA said it was waiting for a report from its inspectors before commenting on Iran’s move.

The decision to ramp up uranium enrichment purity came less than a week after Iran acknowledged breaking the deal’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile. Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile could begin to narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

File: An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers south of Tehran, January 2014. (AP /Vahid Salemi)

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said his country remained open to diplomacy to save the agreement, though it had “no hope” that the international community could salvage the deal.

Abbas Mousavi said Iran appreciated the efforts of some nations to save the deal, but offered a jaded tone on whether Tehran trusted anyone in the negotiations.

“We have no hope nor trust in anyone nor any country but the door of diplomacy is open,” Mousavi said.

He also gave a sharp, yet unelaborated warning to Europe about another 60-day deadline Iran set Sunday. That deadline will come September 5.

“If the remaining countries in the deal, especially the Europeans, do not fulfill their commitments seriously, and not do anything more than talk, Iran’s third step will be harder, more steadfast and somehow stunning,” he said.

 

Vladimir Putin interview on liberalism.

July 8, 2019

vladtepesblog

More than you time worth , a must !
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