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from Commentaries:

West raises stakes over Iran nuclear programme

big-3President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain have deliberately raised the stakes in the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme by dramatising the disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant. Their shoulder-to-shoulder statements of resolve, less than a week before Iran opens talks with six major powers in Geneva, raised more questions than they answer.

It turns out that the United States has known for a long time (how long?) that Iran had been building the still incomplete plant near Qom. Did it share that intelligence with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and if not, why not? Why did it wait until now, in the middle of a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, to make the announcement -- after Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Authority of the plant's existence on Monday, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had delivered a defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday and after the Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution calling for an end to the spread of nuclear weapons on Thursday?

Is this all part of Obama's choreography to  build international pressure on Iran by getting Russia, in return for the dropping of plans to put a U.S. missile shield in Poland the Czech Republic, to threaten more sanctions against Tehran? A U.S. official says Obama shared the intelligence with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev at the United Nations this week and China had only just been informed. Did Obama try and fail to get Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao -- both in Pittsburgh -- to join the three Western leaders on the podium? Or was his hand forced on timing by the fact that the New York Times had got wind of the Iranian nuclear plant and was set to publish the news on Friday?

The division of labour between Obama, Sarkozy and Brown was striking. The U.S. president sounded stern but his tone was measured. He stressed his commitment to dialogue and negotiation with Iran and to Tehran's right to peaceful nuclear energy. He did not mention sanctions, let alone the possibility of military action. It fell to the Europeans to inject a tone of menace.

from From Reuters.com:

Graphic: World nuclear arsenals

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

The Iran question, again

med_iran

It seems last week’s focus, settlement expansion, has given way to this week’s prime focus: Might Israel attack Iran?

Last week the Arab media found Israel's refusal to cease settlement expansion unsurprising and affirmative of what they said was Israel's unwillingness to pursue a peace settlement with the Palestinians. An op-ed in Al Ahram Weekly, an English-language newspaper in Egypt, questioned the Arabs' ability to challenge Israel: “Will they have the courage to shift the focus back from the Israeli-instigated 'Iranian threat' to the clear and present Israeli danger to the region?"

from The Great Debate UK:

Can Britain still afford nuclear weapons ?

[CROSSPOST blog: 19 post: 4040]

Original Post Text:
BRITAIN-NUCLEAR/As the public spending axe starts swinging, attention inevitably turns northwards to the chilly waters of the Clyde where Britain's nuclear deterrent is based.

The four Vanguard class submarines which make up what is left of the UK deterrent come to the end of their lives around 2019 and their Trident missiles will need updating in the 2020s.

from UK News:

Can Britain still afford nuclear weapons ?

BRITAIN-NUCLEAR/As the public spending axe starts swinging, attention inevitably turns northwards to the chilly waters of the Clyde where Britain's nuclear deterrent is based.

The four Vanguard class submarines which make up what is left of the UK deterrent come to the end of their lives around 2019 and their Trident missiles will need updating in the 2020s.

from Commentaries:

Obama playing a weak hand with Iran

The announcement that the major powers, including the United States, are going to open talks with Iran on Oct. 1 ought to be a source of rejoicing. After all, isn't this what much of the world has been urging for several years, while the European Union conducted a frustrating, low-key dialogue like the warm-up band at a rock concert?

So why is there so little excitement about the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany sitting down at the table for comprehensive talks with the Islamic Republic?

from Global News Journal:

Less content, more Merkel in campaign posters

With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.

Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany's first female chancellor.

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s Greens trade in woolly sweaters for business suits

Having traded in their woolly sweaters, jeans and sandals for dapper suits and shiny shoes, Germany's Greens are ready for business, claiming that to be the "party that truly knows its economics".

The world's most successful environmental party is eager to get back into power at the federal election on Sept. 27 after a first stint in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) from 1998 to 2005.

from Global News Journal:

IAEA nations, but not Israel, fete El Baradei in sendoff

Some nations who once criticised Mohamed ElBaradei over his approach to Iran's disputed nuclear programme joined a roomful of effusive tributes to the outgoing chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Thursday.

But Israel, ElBaradei's most public and caustic critic, left its seat empty to sidestep the succession of delegations hailing the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, participants in the closed-door meeting said.

from Global News Journal:

IAEA’s ElBaradei knocks heads together on Iran

At his penultimate meeting with governors of the U.N. nuclear watchdog before he steps down in November, Mohamed ElBaradei gave diplomats a reminder of the colourful prose and no-nonsense authority they may soon miss.

   A veteran of the long-running dispute between the West and Iran over its contentious nuclear programme,  the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency  urged the 35-nation governing body to “put (your) heads together to break the logjam,” on the same day that Tehran submitted a package of proposals to foreign powers.

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