Ian's Feed
May 14, 2012

U.N. inspectors to press Iran on military site access

VIENNA (Reuters) – A senior U.N. nuclear official said Iran must give his inspectors access to information, people and sites as he began a two-day meeting with Iranian officials on the Islamic state’s disputed atomic activities on Monday.

The meeting in Vienna will test Iran’s readiness to address U.N. inspectors’ suspicions of military dimensions to its nuclear program, ahead of high-stakes talks on the program in Baghdad next week between Iran and six world powers.

May 12, 2012

Exiles: Iran advancing active nuclear arms program

PARIS/VIENNA (Reuters) – An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Saturday that Iran has some 60 scientists and engineers involved in a concerted and expanding program to develop nuclear weapons under defense ministry auspices.

However, diplomats say the National Council of Resistance of Iran has had a spotty record with allegations about Iran’s nuclear work since exposing a secret uranium enrichment plant at Natanz in 2002. A top U.S. nuclear expert said the NCRI report, like previous ones, should be treated with great skepticism.

May 10, 2012
via Breakingviews

Euro faces slide on break-up risks


By Ian Campbell

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s euro strength rather than weakness that is remarkable. But a swift slide in its value is now probable. A possible Greek exit from the zone in the coming months is the big near-term risk. But there is also a broader threat. As the crisis persists France and Germany are growing further apart. More growth? Less austerity? A zone torn by discordant voices is vulnerable to a split and the euro to a slide.

May 9, 2012

U.S. institute says sees “new activity” at Iran site

VIENNA (Reuters) – A U.S. security institute says commercial satellite imagery shows new activity at an Iranian military site which raises concern that the Islamic state may be “washing” a building the United Nations’ nuclear agency wants to inspect.

Iran dismissed the report, as it has previously rejected allegations about the Parchin complex, where the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects nuclear weapons-relevant research may have taken place.

May 8, 2012

Middle East nuclear talks thrown into doubt

VIENNA (Reuters) – Talks on ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons looked in doubt on Tuesday as the Western official organizing them said he had yet to secure the needed attendance of all countries in the region.

The statement by Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava at a meeting in Vienna was a sign of the difficulties involved in getting Israel, its arch foe Iran and other Middle East nations to sit around a table this year to discuss the divisive issue.

May 8, 2012

Divisions complicate plans for MidEast nuclear meet

VIENNA (Reuters) – The Western official tasked with preparing for a conference this year on ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons said on Tuesday he had yet to secure the needed participation of all the region’s states, leaving it unclear when the event will be held.

The statement by Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava was a sign of the difficulties and sensitivities involved in getting Israel, its arch foe Iran and other Middle East nations to agree to sit around the same table to discuss the divisive issue.

May 7, 2012

EU tells defiant Iran it “must” suspend atom activity

VIENNA/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union told Iran on Monday it must suspend uranium enrichment, a few days after the Islamic state ruled out doing just that, as Tehran and the West engaged in diplomatic shadow-boxing ahead of nuclear talks this month.

The United States called on Iran to take “urgent practical steps” to build confidence during negotiations with world powers on Tehran’s nuclear program, which Washington and its allies suspect is a bid to develop an atomic bomb capability.

May 4, 2012

Non-nuclear states lobby big powers to disarm faster

VIENNA (Reuters) – Non-nuclear states are urging nuclear-armed nations to disarm faster, while nuclear powers say they are making “unprecedented progress” in doing so, a divide on display at this week’s meeting to discuss the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Under the pact, which most countries have acceded to, the five recognized atomic bomb “haves” agreed to work towards eliminating their bombs, and the “have-nots” pledged not to pursue them. A treaty review conference is scheduled for 2015.

May 4, 2012

Iran dismisses Western demand to close nuclear bunker

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran said on Friday it will never suspend its uranium enrichment program and sees no reason to close the Fordow underground site, making clear Tehran’s red lines in nuclear talks with world powers later this month.

Last month a senior U.S. official said the United States and its allies would demand that Iran halt higher-grade enrichment and immediately close the Fordow facility at talks over Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West.

May 3, 2012

World powers urge Iran to give more nuclear access

VIENNA/ST GALLEN, Switzerland (Reuters) – The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council put pressure on Iran on Thursday to allay international concern about its nuclear program, and said they expected talks with Tehran to lead to concrete steps toward a negotiated solution.

Iran and major powers resumed talks in mid-April in Istanbul after more than a year – a chance to ease tension and help to avert the threat of a new Middle East war. They are to meet again on May 23 in Baghdad.