Round up of Today’s International News 20/10/11


U.S. Denies Iran Claims That Saudi Plot Defendant Belongs to Exile Group
Obama administration officials on Wednesday denied Iranian news reports that a man charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States is actually an agent of an exiled Iranian opposition group. “We note that these reports originate solely with Iranian state media sources, which have a documented history of fabricating news stories,” said Rhonda H. Shore, a State Department spokeswoman.

Iran should extradite or try alleged plotter: US
Iran should extradite or prosecute the high-ranking Revolutionary Guard official accused of plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, the United States said Monday. The State Department also said it was supportive of Iranian consular visits to the other main suspect in the apparent plot, Iranian-American dual national Mansour Arbabsiar, who is currently being held in a US jail pending trial.

Iran prosecutor to gather evidence of U.S. ‘crimes;’ Clinton visits Oman for support
Iran’s judiciary chief says that he has assigned the country’s state prosecutor to gather evidence proving U.S. crimes in Iran and elsewhere as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Oman to discuss the Islamic Republic. The statement by Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, a cleric who heads the country’s judicial system, come days after the U.S. accused Iranian government agents of plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States. Iran has dismissed the charges as absurd. In comments broadcast Wednesday on state television, Larijani says his country is planning to sue the United States for committing “crimes” against both Iranians and Americans.

The alarm bells behind Iran’s alleged assassination plot
A mere moment or two after the Obama administration announced it had discovered and thwarted a plot by Iran to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States by bombing a Washington restaurant, the doubters started to air their doubts. Columnists and experts, even some columnists who were not experts, said the Iranians would never be so sloppy as to commit a virtual act of war by setting off a bomb in the nation’s capital. The alleged plot was crazy, they said. I agree. But so is Iran.


Iran says to make own nuclear fuel plate within 5 months
Iran plans to produce the first of its own enriched nuclear fuel within five months, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday, the official IRNA news agency reported. „We hope to produce the first domestic-made nuclear fuel plate within the next four to five months,“ Salehi, former head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation, was quoted as saying. He said the plate, made of uranium enriched to 20 percent, would be tested at Tehran’s research reactor, which is currently running on low-enriched nuclear fuel imported from Argentina in 1993.

Iran could make atom bomb material despite hurdles: report
Iran’s nuclear program is struggling with low-performing enrichment machines but it would still be able to produce material that could be used for atomic bombs, according to a U.S. think tank. In a report coinciding with rising tension between Iran and the West, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) also said tougher sanctions could make it more difficult for the Islamic state to obtain key parts for its uranium enrichment work.

Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Plant Shuts for Tests, Government Says
Iran’s first nuclear power plant, which was officially linked to the country’s electricity grid last month, was “temporarily disconnected” for safety tests, the government’s news website reported. The Russian-built 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant started generating electricity at 50 percent of its capacity on Oct. 7, a report in said. It was linked to the power grid on Sept. 12. The plant will be disconnected from the national grid for “several weeks” until it can operate at full capacity by the end of 2011, Iranian officials said last month.

How far will newest U.N. nuclear report on Iran go?
Amid new reports indicating Iran’s nuclear program is faltering, the international nuclear watchdog agency is putting the finishing touches on its latest assessment and it might go further in tying Iran to a possible weapons program. (…) It is not clear how much more detail will be provided to the member nations, but a U.S. official says the report is not going to „fundamentally change“ the assessment of the program. The official said „there are not new things being seen, but it will bring the IAEA in line with what the US has assessed so far.“ However, nuclear weapons expert David Albright believes the IAEA might go a little further with its report. „The IAEA has new stuff and something seems to have alarmed Amano,“ Albright said Tuesday.

Iran gasoline import slump softens sanctions blow
Iranian gasoline imports have slumped by as much as 95 percent over the last four years, according to official government data, as rising refinery capacity and lower fuel subsidies help neutralize western sanctions aimed at starving Tehran of fuel.

Reports of human rights abuses in Iran on rise: U.N.
Human rights violations in Iran appear to be increasing, with political activists, journalists and others often facing persecution, a U.N. rights investigator said in a report released on Monday. (…) Among the abuses by the Iranian justice system that Shaheed has investigated are „torture, cruel, or degrading treatment of detainees, the imposition of the death penalty in the absence of proper judicial safeguards, (and) the status of women,“ according to the report.

Iran ‘secretly executing’ Azerbaijani prisoners
The Iranian regime has secretly executed hundreds of prisoners, according to a new U.N. report detailing growing rights abuses in the Islamic republic. The report came on Oct. 10 as five Iranian Azerbaijanis who were convicted of drug trafficking were executed. (…) According to the Association for Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners in Iran (ADAPP), the individuals were convicted after an unfair trial process largely based on confessions extracted under torture and false documents allegedly prepared by the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of Iran.

Iran’s supreme leader ups fight with Ahmadinejad
In the ongoing political skirmishes among Iran’s leadership, it was the equivalent of bringing out the heavy ammunition: The country’s most powerful figure warning that the post of elected president could someday be scrapped. Although no overhauls appear on the immediate horizon after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comment — he spoke only vaguely about possibilities in the „distant future“ — the mere mention of eliminating Iran’s highest elected office shows the severity and scope of the power struggle between Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


UK freezes assets of five over alleged Iranian plot
The government has frozen the assets of five men, including two central suspects in an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States, matching sanctions taken by U.S. authorities. Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that Britain was discussing action with its European Union partners and expected other nations to follow suit with sanctions.

Iran nuclear issue to grow more urgent: UK’s Hague
Tackling Iran’s nuclear program will become more urgent over the next year and the world must not be distracted from it by the focus on the Arab Spring popular uprisings, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday. Hague said U.S. allegations of an Iranian-linked plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington were separate from the dispute over Western suspicions Iran is covertly trying to develop atom bombs and would not stop efforts to resolve it. But he said Britain would seek to „step up the pressure“ on the Islamic Republic, which already faces extensive sanctions, if it did not change its nuclear policy.

Europe signals more sanctions on Tehran
France and the United Kingdom are looking to bring harder sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, one week after the U.S. government accused Iran of an alleged plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

EU criticizes Iran for sentences against artists
The European Union has condemned Iran’s decision to sentence an actress to one year in prison and 90 lashes for criticizing conditions in her country, arguing that the corporal punishment is tantamount to torture. According to Iranian opposition sources, actress Marzieh Vafamehr was arrested in July after appearing in the movie “My Tehran for Sale,” which was shot in the Iranian capital and was critical of the Islamic republic’s hard-line policies.


Muammar Gaddafi killed in gun battle
Abdul Hakim Belhaj, a NTC military chief, has confirmed that Muammar Gaddafi has died of his wounds after being captured near Sirte. Another NTC commander said that Moussa Ibrahim, former spokesman for Muammar Gaddafi’s fallen government, was captured near Sirte.

‚An unimaginable nuclear scenario‘ possible in Kuwait
Massive and lethal radiation contamination could be the „inconceivable scenario“ for Kuwait if a nuclear disaster were to take place at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, located only 270 kilometers from the tiny Gulf state, according to a military intelligence expert. (…) Speaking at a seminar held yesterday at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), Dr. Salmi Al-Faraj, the chairman of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies (KCSS), warned that the health hazards resulting from living in close proximity to the nuclear power plant could be far greater than those resulting from the 1991 Gulf War.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Operating in Baghdad – Iraqi source
A former Iraqi security official has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that: „A large number of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that belongs to the Qods Force are present in the fortified Green Zone, which houses Arab and Western embassies and offices and homes of government officials and some parliament members.“ (…) He said: „I will not be surprised if the Qods Force members in the Green Zone assassinate any Iraqi official or an Arab or Western diplomat if they want to.“ He warned: „The most serious danger of the presence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel in sensitive areas in Baghdad and other provinces in Iraq is that they can carry out a security coup, especially if the US forces withdraw from Iraq, and this is what Iran is pushing for.“

Turkey plans new border gates with Iran, Iraq, Georgia
Turkey is planning to open a total of nine new border crossings with Iran, Iraq and Georgia over the next two years to facilitate booming trade with its neighbors. (…) The new crossing with Iran, expected to become operational in 2013 as the fourth between the two countries, will be at Dilucu in Iğdır province. Turkish and Iranian officials are planning a joint field visit soon to choose the exact location for the gate.

Is the Syria uprising heading towards civil war?
Syrian refugees living in Lebanon say that anti-government protesters, trying to bring down President Bashar al-Assad, are resorting increasingly to the use of force. „There will definitely be a civil war,“ said one middle-aged refugee.

Turkey Launches Revenge Attacks on Kurdish Militants
Turkey has launched cross-border attacks into northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish militants who killed more than 20 Turkish soldiers early on Wednesday morning. The situation threatens to explode into widespread violence in the region.

Gilad Shalit release: freed Palestinian prisoner vows to ’sacrifice‘ her life
An unsuccessful suicide bomber released from prison as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israeli conscript, on Wednesday vowed to fulfil a childhood ambition by „sacrificing“ her life for the Palestinian cause.


US urges world to ‚redouble‘ condemnation of Iran
The United States seized Tuesday on a UN report detailing fresh rights abuses in Iran to call for increased global condemnation of Tehran and to continue to demand change in the country. „Officials continue to stifle all forms of dissent, persecute religious and ethnic minorities, harass and intimidate human rights defenders and engage in the torture of detainees,“ said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

U.S. fears more plots from Iran’s Quds Force
The United States believes Iran’s shadowy Quds Force is becoming increasingly aggressive overseas and may be working on other international plots beyond the alleged plan to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, three U.S. officials told Reuters. U.S. allegations last week of a foiled plot in Washington have escalated tensions between the United States and Iran. They have also renewed Washington’s focus on the Quds Force, the covert operations arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is believed to have sponsored attacks on U.S. targets in the Middle East — but never before in the United States.

No resolution on U.S. troops in Iraq, Iran threat seen
Washington has not given up on trying to secure a deal to keep U.S. military trainers in Iraq beyond the end of the year, as it frets about what it calls Iranian meddling in the region, U.S. officials said on Monday. (…) Little said the U.S. desire to keep the trainers in Iraq was based in part on a threat seen emanating from neighboring Iran. „Regardless of the question of troop presence, we are going to be working closely with the government of Iraq because we remain very concerned that Iran is meddling, not just in the affairs of Iraq but of other countries in the region. And that’s unacceptable,“ Little said.

Koch’s Iran Link Causes Democrat to Send Donation to Charity
Dan Maffei, a New York congressional candidate and former member of the U.S. House, said he is giving $3,500 in political donations from Koch Industries Inc. to charity because the company profited from business in Iran. (…) Maffei cited a report this month in Bloomberg Markets that Koch sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, considered by the U.S. to be a sponsor of global terrorism.


Russia concerned about Iran nuclear report: diplomats
Russia fears a U.N. report which is expected to heighten suspicions about Iran’s atomic ambitions could undermine Moscow’s initiative to help resolve a nuclear dispute with Tehran, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday. Russia’s concern about the timing of the U.N. report, due next month, contrasts with the hopes of Western states that the document will strengthen their case to step up pressure on the Islamic state over its nuclear program.    Quelle: EU Realite









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