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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Iran Finds New Uranium Reserves

TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran said on Saturday it had found significant new deposits of raw uranium and identified sites for 16 more nuclear power stations.
The IRNA news agency quoted a report by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) which said the reserves were discovered in northern and southern coastal areas and had trebled the amount outlined in previous estimates.
With few uranium mines of its own, Western experts had previously thought that Iran might be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium.
"We have discovered new sources of uranium in the country and we will put them to use in the near future," Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the AEOI, was quoted as saying at Iran's annual nuclear industry conference.
The announcement came ahead of talks in Kazakhstan on Tuesday with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Diplomats say the six powers, known as the P5+1, are set to offer Iran some relief from U.S.-led sanctions if it agrees to curb its production of higher-grade enriched uranium.
The enriched uranium required for use in nuclear reactors is produced in centrifuges that spin uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) at high speeds. The UF6 is derived from yellow cake, a concentrate from uranium ore discovered in mines.
Iran's reserves of raw uranium now stood at around 4,400 tons, taking into account discoveries over the past 18 months, IRNA quoted the report as saying.
In another sign that Iran is intent on pushing forward with its nuclear energy program, Iran also said 16 sites had been identified for the construction of nuclear power stations.
It did not specify the exact locations but said they included coastal areas of the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Khuzestan province and the Caspian Sea.
The Islamic Republic says it needs 20 large-scale plants to meet its growing electricity needs over the next one-and-a-half decades. It currently operates a 1,000-megawat nuclear power plant at Bushehr, a coastal town on the Persian Gulf, and is planning to build a 360-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.
"The whole country has been studied in the past years," said Abbasi-Davani.
"Adequate locations, on the basis of global parameters, were probed and 16 locations at various parts of the country were identified," he said.
A statement released by his organization said the sites were chosen in part for their resistance to earthquakes and military air strikes.
"Geologic, demographic, topographic, seismic, meteorological and hydrologic criteria as well as access to power transmission lines ... were given into consideration," it said.
Separately, national TV said the country has discovered new uranium resources in what it characterized as a "big discovery". As UN sanctions ban Iran from importing any nuclear material, it has focused on developing domestic uranium reserves.
"We are meeting all of our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and we should be able to benefit from our rights. We don't accept more responsibilities and less rights," Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, was quoted as telling Saturday's conference.
Iran is also installing new-generation centrifuges, capable of producing enriched uranium much faster, at a site in Natanz in the center of the country.
Western diplomats say the P5+1 will reiterate demands for the suspension of uranium enrichment to a purity of 20%, the closure of Iran's Fordo enrichment plant, increased access for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and agreement to address concerns on existing uranium stockpiles.
In return, the latest embargoes on gold and metals trading with Iran would be lifted. Iran has criticized the offer and says its rights need to be fully recognized.
"If the P5+1 group wants to start constructive talks with Tehran it needs to present a valid proposal," said Jalili. "It needs to put its past errors to one side ... to win the trust of the Iranian nation."
In a statement issued before the Iranian announcement, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the six-power group wanted to enter a "substantial negotiation process" over Tehran's nuclear program.
"The talks in Almaty are a chance which I hope Iran takes," he said.
Jalili said, "The Iranian nation will defend its rights including its nuclear rights ... Iranian people do not accept to be treated as an exception in the world."
"They have announced that they have imposed crippling pressures on the Iranian nation to give up its rights ... but despite the sanctions they have only witnessed Iranian people ... defending their rights," Jalili added.
"If the 5+1 wants to enter constructive talks, then they should enter it with a new strategy and proposals. We hope the 5+1 ... enter on a path that can win the Iranian people's trust," he said.

IRGC Launches Military Drills

TEHRAN (Dispatches) — The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps on Saturday began a three-day ground and air military exercise aimed at upgrading its combat readiness.
The drills involve ground forces of the IRGC around the city of Sirjan in the country's south. National television showed tanks and artillery attacking hypothetical enemy positions.
The broadcast said the aim of the exercise is to upgrade the capabilities of the Iranian forces.
In the first stage of the three-day maneuver, the IRGC ground forces attacked mock enemy positions, using intelligence provided by surveillance drones.
Deputy commander of the IRGC ground forces Brigadier General Abdullah Araqi said the Great Prophet 8 drill is aimed at exercising various techniques and tactics by implementing principles of passive defense in asymmetric warfare.
The commander said the forces are improving their defensive capabilities, adding they will use their latest military innovations in the upcoming stages.
"The drill will provide ground troops with an opportunity to practice defensive plans and asymmetric warfare tactics," IRGC ground forces' commander Muhammad Pakpour said on Wednesday.
"New advanced pieces of military hardware, which have recently been delivered to the IRGC Ground Forces, and new telecommunications and electronic warfare systems will be used and tested during the exercise," he said.
Over the past few years, Iran has held several military drills to enhance the defense capabilities of its armed forces and to test modern military tactics and equipment.
Iran has repeatedly stated that its military might poses no threat to other countries, reiterating that its defense doctrine is based on deterrence.

No Submission to Threats

Deputy chairman of Iranian armed forces’ Chief of Staff Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said Saturday the Islamic Republic will never give in to Western threats and pressures.
“It is impossible that the Islamic Republic will ever stop pursuing its goals, ideals and policies as a result of pressure, bargaining, inconclusive negotiations or similar measures taken by foreigners, and the current state of affairs attests to the failure of the opposite side,” Jazayeri said.
The commander went on to note that the Islamic Republic’s steady progress has proved the futility of the enemies’ moves, and the Iranian nation has achieved necessary potential to easily overcome difficulties.
“The doctrine of using pressure to change the behavior of independent countries and political entities has expired, while (on the other hand), the doctrine of using threat against threat has created new capacities and has changed a lot of political, security, economic and military equations,” the commander added.
He pointed to the terrorist attacks carried out around the world by terrorist groups backed by the U.S., Britain and Israel, stressing that such groups threaten the humanity and will finally turn against Washington, London and the Tel Aviv regime.
“(Terrorist) groups like Al-Qaeda and agencies which operate in line with the U.S. interests, will soon change their operational environment to other locations and thenceforth, they will cause new troubles for the United States and Europe,” Jazayeri stated.
He further pointed out that the technologies which are used by the terrorist groups, will finally enable them to threaten the U.S. interests.

Navy to Use Drones

Navy commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran has equipped its naval forces with different types of drones for use in a variety of missions.
"Today, different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance, offensive and defensive measures are available to the Navy," he said.
"These drones with different ranges have been put into operation in the Navy."
He added that the drones are exclusively used for naval missions, adding "We will use our drones wherever they are needed."
Military commanders recently have said Iran was planning to unveil new strategic drones which can fly up to 30,000 feet in altitude and 24 hours in one go.

Report: U.S. Sells Tear Gas to Egypt

CAIRO (Dispatches) -- Egypt's interior ministry ordered 140,000 teargas canisters from the United States in January, which the U.S. State Department only allowed to be exported without the company's name or any indication they were made in the U.S., the Egypt Independent reports.
From letters between the interior ministry and defense ministry: "In light of the ongoing incidents and growing need for gas bombs to deal with rioters and preserve the nations safety, Al-Guindy Company for Imports and Exports, a representative of the U.S. Combined System Company in Egypt, has been contracted to import 70,000 gas bombs and 70,000 long-range gas projectiles from the US to Egypt,” the letter stated.
From a memo written on January 28, 2013 by Major General Magdy al-Gohary, head of the Egyptian Department for Police Supply:
“The U.S. government was stringent in issuing export permits for Egypt items that have been contracted since July, due to the unstable situation in Egypt and what was circulated by the media and rights groups about the U.S. company’s effect on protesters while using (the gas canisters) against rioters in Egypt.”
“The permit from the U.S. government was obtained after removing the company’s name and country of origin written on the items. While writing the memorandum on 28 January 2013, procedures were taken to ship the items via sea. They are expected to reach the Egyptian ports during the first half of April.”
The 140,000 gas canisters cost around $2,463,000.
On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told the press, "Whether we’re talking about Egypt or any other country on the planet, frankly, we support the right of peaceful protest as one means for citizens to express themselves to their government. But protest has to be peaceful and the response to protest also has to be restrained and peaceful on the part of the government."
The sale came at a time of political turmoil in Egypt. Egypt's opposition attacked President Muhammad Mursi on Friday for calling elections during a national crisis.
No sooner had Mursi called the parliamentary polls on Thursday than liberals and leftists accused him of deepening divisions between Islamists and their opponents. Some threatened to boycott voting which starts on April 27th and finishes in late June.
Egypt is split between the Islamists, who want national life to observe religion more closely, and opposition groups which hold a wide variety of visions for the future.
Across Egypt there were scattered protests in Alexandria and Port Said, while a demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square was muted as a sandstorm enveloped the capital.

Americans Misinformed About Iran

A new Gallup poll found that 99% of Americans see Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to the U.S/ national security. They believe Iran’s imaginary weapons program is more of a threat than North Korea’s actual nuclear weapons.
Contrast these beliefs with the facts: The consensus in the whole of the intelligence community in the U.S. (and Israel) is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and has yet to demonstrate any intention of starting one anytime soon.
But false beliefs persist even when there have been ample reassurances from elite sources in politics, the military, and the news media that Iran has no weapons program. A matter of months ago, the Obama administration marched out their minions, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, all of whom reiterated the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons program, despite constant rhetoric to the contrary.
In February the New York Times ran a front page story entitled “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” It reported: “Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.” Again in March, they reported “top administration officials have said that Iran still has not decided to pursue a weapon, reflecting the intelligence community’s secret analysis”. Another in the Los Angeles Times was similarly headlined, “U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb.”
Furthermore, even if Iran did have nuclear weapons, there is broad consensus that it would not translate to nuclear war. Officials and expert analysts constantly explain Iran’s leaders are rational, unlikely to provoke a conflict, and have no interest in suicide as a result of nuclear retaliation by the US. The threat from Iran is manufactured.
So can the politicians and the media still be blamed for spreading falsehoods about Iran? In a word, yes. Former CIA officer Paul Pillar, when writing about the misinformation campaign to sell the Iraq war, explained it was “less a matter of instilling any specific mistaken belief than of instilling a mood and momentum”. It was “at least as much a matter of rhetorical themes as of manipulated evidence. The belief was cultivated by repeatedly uttering ‘Iraq,’ ’9/11? and ‘war on terror’ in the same breath”. Despite the official position that Iran has no weapons program and has not demonstrated an intention to build one, most of the political, military, and media elite are constantly regurgitating lines about blocking “Iran” from obtaining “nuclear weapons.” In Obama’s statement Thursday following his latest Executive Order imposing additional sanctions on Iran, he talked about the “Iranian government” and “its defiance” in its nuclear program. A Romney spokesman then came out and said Obama “has allowed Iran’s nuclear ambitions to proceed unimpeded” and that Obama’s policy and Iran’s ongoing program “has imperiled our allies and jeopardized our national security”.
The administration officials that came out to reiterate the intelligence consensus did so in boring Congressional testimony, which no one watches. The more vociferous and rhetorical politicians going on tirades on the Senate floor or demagoguing on television and reinforcing the belief in Iranian weapons programs, by contrast, get the attention of the electorate. And far fewer Americans read the New York Times frequently enough that they may have caught those few articles dispelling the myth of Iranian nukes, than watch pundits on network news like Fox, CNN, and NBC, for example, which constantly mislead on this question.
Trevor Thrall, also writing in the National Interest in a follow-up post to Pillar’s piece on Iraq war propaganda, said much of the reason such false beliefs persist is because the American people are substantially ignorant of “what’s going on in the United States, much less the rest of the world”.
The 2008 civic literacy survey conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, for example, found that fewer than half of all Americans can name all three branches of government and that almost 40% of Americans believe the president has the power to declare war. Just 27% know that the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the establishment of an official U.S. religion. The Pew Research Center, which tracks such things in a fruitless effort to find that news consumption improves political knowledge, found ample evidence of American ignorance in its 2007 survey: 31% could not name the current vice president (Cheney); 68% did not know that Sunni and Shia are two branches of Islam…(etc.)
And when briefly-appearing facts are explained in Washington and the media, it actually doesn’t hold much sway. Back in 2010, Joe Keohane wrote a piece in the Boston Globe about how political science research shows that “facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds”. He cited recent studies which found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
People are not just ignorant, they’re ideological. They’ll believe what they want to believe. Unfortunately, such widespread and impenetrable false beliefs in the realm of foreign policy means that the political leadership can pretty easily launch a war if and when they decide to do so and whether it is warranted or not.