Iran to respond on nuclear deal with West

Iran says it’s ready for constructive talks with world powers. But it will not discuss what it calls its nuclear rights.

The Islamic Republic is due to give its response in Vienna today to a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal.

Fears about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme were heightened in September with the disclosure of a once-secret uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom.

The US and other world powers suspect Iran’s nuclear development plans are designed to produce nuclear weapons.

Neither the International Atomic Energy Agency nor Iranian officials have commented on the IAEA inspectors visit this week to the site.

The inspections were aimed at verifying that the reactor was intended to produce peaceful nuclear energy and not warheads.

Under the draft deal Iran would send low enriched uranium abroad for further processing and eventual use in a research reactor.

 

High hopes for Iran nuclear deal

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes it has found the formula that will settle the nuclear standoff between Iran and the international community.

Director and Nobel peace prize winner Mohammed El-Baradei leaves his post next month, and he hopes this will be his legacy.

“I very much hope that people see the big picture, see that this agreement could open the way for a complete normalisation of relations between Iran and the international community,” he said in Vienna.

El-Baradei’s project, which needs the approval of all the nations involved in talks, has initially been presented to four of them: the US, Iran, France and Russia.

It requires Iran to send its low-level enriched uranium to Russia, where it will be boosted to the maximum allowed for civil use, – 19.75 percent – and then sent to France, which will transform it into nuclear piles for use in reactors.

France will then return it to Iran, where it will be used in research facilities mainly for the production of medical isotopes.

One of the sticking points until now had been France’s insistance that Iran exhaust its stockpile, or at least reduce it to a point where making fissile material for warheads would be impossible. That appears to have been taken on board.

Iran will send 1200 kilos of its 1500 kilo stockpile to Russia for enrichment. The 300 kilos left in Iran is way below the 2000 kilos needed to make a bomb, and Iran cannot currently enrich it to the 90 percent weapons-grade level in any case.

The ball is now firmly in the court of the governments concerned.

Larijani: religion rules out nuclear arms

The speaker of the Iranian parliament has ruled out Iran possessing nuclear weapons on religious grounds, the first time Islam has been invoked in the nuclear row.

He told euronews: “Iran is a country that is governed according to religious values. The leader of the Supreme Council issued a fatwa, a religious decree that says having access to weapons of mass destruction is haram, or forbidden. Not only just nuclear, but also chemical and biological weapons.”

By inference, Iran is saying anyone posessing WMDs is damned and will go to hell. The full interview is broadcast on euronews from Friday. go to http://www.euronews.net/interview for more information.

Iran: Britain denies role in guards attack

Britain’s foreign minister has categorically denied Britain had anything to do with the suicide attack on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards yesterday.

America and Pakistan have also denied accusations they helped the Sunni rebel Jundollah movement carry out the bombing, which killed two of the Guard’s senior commanders and 40 others.

Several senior Iranian figures have said the Iranian security services had proof of foreign involvement, with President Ahmadinejad accusing Pakistan, but today he called instead on Islamabad for closer co-operation in dealing with terrorism, which he called their “common enemy”.

The Jundoullah group is based in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan on the Afghan frontier and it has been mounting increasingly spectacular attacks against the regime in Tehran for a number of years.

Iran says group members are given safe haven in Pakistan and it is sending a delegation to demand the extradition of its leader, Abdolmalek Righi.

Iran executed 13 group members in July.

29 dead in suicide attack on Revolutionary Guards commanders

euronews-A suicide bomber has killed 29 people, including six senior Revolutionary Guards commanders in Iran.

State television says a Sunni rebel group has admitted carrying out the attack which left another 28 people wounded.

Analysts say a rebel group known as Jundollah, which has links to the Taliban in neighbouring Pakistan, is the likely suspect.

The attack took place at the gates of a conference hall in the city of Sarbaz in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

A suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body during a gathering of tribal leaders according to the Iranian television reports.

The Revolutionary Guard is a branch of Iran’s military founded after the Iranian revolution. It is thought to number as many as 120,000 with its own small naval and air arms.

Two high-ranking commanders among the dead were the deputy head of the Guards’ ground forces and the regional commander of the Sistan-Baluchestan province.

Three sentenced to death over election protests

AFP – Three people arrested after Iran’s disputed presidential election have been condemned to death despite a global outcry over trials of people who claimed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election was rigged.

“Three people who were accused (for their role) in the post-election incidents have been sentenced to death,” said Zahed Bashiri Rad, media officer at the justice ministry, quoted by ISNA news agency on Saturday.

Bashiri Rad, giving only the initials of the convicts said that “MZ and AP were convicted for ties with the Kingdom Assembly of Iran and NA for ties with the Monafeghin (exiled opposition group commonly known as the People’s Mujahedeen).”

Massive street protests broke out in Iran following Ahmadinejad’s re-election.


About 4,000 people were initially arrested and 140, including senior reformers and journalists, have been put on trial on charges of seeking a “soft” overthrow of the regime and inciting protests.

On Thursday, a reformist website reported that a member of a group seeking to restore Iran’s monarchy has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the unrest, identifying him as Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani.

Judiciary officials were not available to confirm if he was the “MZ” mentioned by ISNA on Saturday.

On Friday, Amnesty International urged Tehran to lift the death sentence on Zamani. A member of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, he was among scores of arrested people in the post-vote mass demonstrations, it said.

Amnesty condemned such “show trials” as a “mockery of justice”.

Bashiri Rad said the death sentences were “not final and they can still be appealed to the supreme court.”

Under Iranian law, convicts may appeal their sentences, which must be upheld by both the appeals court and the supreme court before they are carried out.

Bashiri Rad also said some other defendants received their sentences and they have appealed, but did not give the details of the verdicts.

“Appeals of 18 of defendants that have been convicted over the recent riots will soon be sent to the Tehran appeals court,” Bashiri Rad said.

Tehran prosecutors have denied a report that 20 people, among them prominent reformists, including Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and reformist politicians Mohammed Ali Abtahi, Mohammad Atrianfar, Shahab Tabatabaei, Saeed Shariati and Abdollah Momeni will soon be freed on bail.

Bashiri Rad did not specify if among the 18 convicts there were any prominent reformists.

Khamenei slams Israel in Eid sermon

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted arch-foe Israel, Western powers and foreign media networks in a sermon on Sunday marking the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Khamenei, who has the final say in all Iran’s national issues, said a “Zionist cancer” was gnawing into the lives of Islamic nations.

The annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally held across Iran on Friday, he said, was a “day of loud and clear shouts” against this “deadly cancer of Zionism which is gnawing into the lives of the Islamic nations”.

The all-powerful cleric added that the “deadly cancer was spreading through the invading hands of the occupiers and arrogant powers.”

His anti-Israel remarks came two days after the Quds Day rally during which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had also slammed Israel and reiterated his controversial belief that the Holocaust was a “myth.”

Friday’s pro-Palestinian rally was marred by massive protests against Ahmadinejad launched by supporters of those who stood against him in June presidential elections and who claim his re-election was rigged.

Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel comments enraged the global community, including key ally Moscow, just days ahead of his planned visit to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

On Sunday, Khamenei said attempts by Israel, Western powers and foreign media networks to weaken Iran had failed.

“The enemies tried to undermine the Quds Day rally, but the rally showed that the schemes of the enemies were not effective,” the cleric said as worshippers attending his sermon at Tehran university chanted, “Leader, we offer our blood to you!”

He particularly lashed out foreign media networks, saying they were “poisoning the atmosphere in Iran.”

“In the past few months, Western leaders fell for their media, professional press analysts and radios and televisions and thought they could influence the Iranian nation. But you showed that they were chasing a mirage,” he told the crowds of worshippers.

“This year, more than before, they tried to weaken the Quds Day, but the glorious Quds Day in Tehran showed the whole world the direction in which the revolution and Iran was heading.

“It showed that their (Western politicians) tricks, spending money and political evilness does not influence the Iranian nation.”

Khamenei’s sermon marking Eid and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan was attended by Ahmadinejad and other top officials of Iran, including opposition supporter Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.

Mohsen Rezai, former head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and one of the defeated candidates in the June 12 presidential election, was also present during the sermon.