OH YES THEY DID: Secret Document Lifts Iran Nuclear Constraints, Cuts Time Tehran Would Need to Build Bomb by HalfPosted: July 18, 2016
Breakout time would be reduced to six months, or even less if the efficiency is more than double.
VIENNA (AP) — Key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program imposed under an internationally negotiated deal will ease in slightly more than a decade, cutting the time Tehran would need to build a bomb to six months from present estimates of a year, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The document is the only part linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public. It was given to the AP by a diplomat whose work has focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.
12 Times the Obama Administration Caved to Iran on Nuclear Deal
The diplomat who shared the document with the AP described it as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal. But while formally separate from that accord, he said that it was in effect an integral part of the deal and had been approved both by Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the six powers that negotiated the deal with Tehran.
Details published earlier outline most restraints on Iran’s nuclear program meant to reduce the threat that Tehran will turn nuclear activities it says are peaceful to making weapons.
But while some of the constraints extend for 15 years, documents in the public domain are short on details of what happens with Iran’s most proliferation-prone nuclear activity – its uranium enrichment – beyond the first 10 years of the agreement.
The document obtained by the AP fills in the gap. It says that as of January 2027 – 11 years after the deal was implemented – Iran can start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines.
Centrifuges churn out uranium to levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes to much higher levels for the core of a nuclear warhead. From year 11 to 13, says the document, Iran can install centrifuges up to five times as efficient as the 5,060 machines it is now restricted to using.
Those new models will number less than those being used now, ranging between 2,500 and 3,500, depending on their efficiency, according to the document. But because they are more effective, they will allow Iran to enrich at more than twice the rate it is doing now.
The U.S. says the Iran nuclear agreement is tailored to ensure that Iran would need at least 12 months to “break out” and make enough weapons grade uranium for at least one weapon.
But based on a comparison of outputs between the old and newer machines, if the enrichment rate doubles, that breakout time would be reduced to six months, or even less if the efficiency is more than double, a possibility the document allows for.
The document also allows Iran to greatly expand its work with centrifuges that are even more advanced, including large-scale testing in preparation for the deal’s expiry 15 years after its implementation on Jan. 18. Read the rest of this entry »
When it was revealed that the video had been edited to remove those comments, the State Department quickly restored the entire video, and blamed the missing video on a ‘glitch.’
Pete Kasperowicz reports: The State Department admitted Wednesday that a 2013 press briefing video was purposefully altered to remove a portion of a discussion about the Iran nuclear talks, after an unknown State Department official asked that it be edited out.
“James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”
— Psaki to Fox News reporter James Rosen
Spokesman John Kirby’s announcement contradicted the position held by the department for the last three weeks, during which officials said the video was missing because of a “glitch.”
“The missing video clip was revealed more than three weeks ago, and it involves then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who was asked in 2013 whether officials ever lie to the public to protect national security interests.”
But Kirby said officials didn’t know who asked for the video to be edited, and said the department is unlikely to investigate further into who wanted the video to be edited.
Kirby said he asked the Office of the Legal Adviser to look into the issue, and that officials “learned that a specific request was made to excise that portion of the briefing. We do not know who made the request to edit the video, or why it was made.”
Kirby insisted that the person who made the edit only remembers that he or she got a call from someone at the State Department, who was passing on a request from the departments’ Public Affairs Bureau. But he said the person who received the call didn’t remember who the caller was, and doesn’t know who in that bureau made the request. Read the rest of this entry »
Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Monday said the United States cannot “do a damn thing” about the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
“They have engaged in a lot of hue and cry over Iran’s missile capabilities, but they should know that this ballyhoo does not have any influence and they cannot do a damn thing,” Khamenei said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Iran in March tested ballistic missiles, including two with the words “Israel must be wiped off the earth” emblazoned on them, according to the US and other Western powers. Under a nuclear deal signed last year between world powers and Iran, ballistic missile tests are not forbidden outright but are “not consistent” with a United Nations Security Council resolution from July 2015, US officials say.
According to the UN decision, “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” until October 2023.
“The US and other powers are extremely sad at this issue and they have no other option; that is why they made huge efforts in order to bring the country’s decision-making and decision-taking centers under their control, but they failed and God willing, they will continue to fail,” Khamanei said on Monday.
The supreme leader, who has final say on state matters, lambasted the “arrogant” Western powers, arguing that efforts to shut down its nuclear program and missile tests were a pretext to meddle in Iran’s affairs. Read the rest of this entry »
As cost overruns and delays plague the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, fusion startups are raising more capital.
Richard Martin reports: The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project reached a critical phase last week, as a panel of experts convened to review the latest revised budget and time line to build the proposed fusion reactor delivered its findings. Launched in 2006, ITER has been plagued with delays and cost overruns as the challenge of bringing six countries—the United States, China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea—together with the European Union to build an experimental reactor has proved nearly insurmountable.
The latest schedule put forth by the project’s director, French nuclear physicist Bernard Bigot, calls for the machine to be switched on by 2025 and to actually achieve fusion only in 2035—a dozen years later than originally planned. The panel found that timing plausible but said that the latest budget, which would add another €4.6 billion ($5.3 billion) in cost overruns to the project, was unlikely to become available. Read the rest of this entry »
Iraq is searching for ‘highly dangerous’ radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.
The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford WFT.N, the document seen by Reuters showed and officials confirmed.
A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.
“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear.”
— Official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter
Weatherford said in a statement that it was not responsible or liable for the theft. “We do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored,” it said.
The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.
An SGS official in Iraq declined to comment and referred Reuters to its Turkish headquarters, which did not respond to phone calls and emails.
The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports but has seen no sign that Islamic State or other militant groups have acquired it.
A U.S. official said separately that Iraq had reported a missing specialized camera containing highly radioactive Iridium-192 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, in November.
“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The environment ministry document, dated Nov. 30 and addressed to the ministry’s Centre for Prevention of Radiation, describes “the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS from a depot belonging to Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.
A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules”, a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.
The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days. Read the rest of this entry »
NARRATIVE, INTERRUPTED: U.S. Becoming Safer Compared to Europe in Both Fatalities and Frequency of Mass Public ShootingsPosted: January 8, 2016
US Now Ranks 11th in Fatalities and 12th in Frequency.
“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.”
– President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016
This claim is simply not true. Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, and 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.
Indeed, over that same period of time, the European Union (EU) suffered 303 deaths from mass public shootings, while the US had 199. In terms of injuries from these attacks the gap was even much greater, with EU countries facing 680 versus just 197 for the US. However, given the EU’s larger population, the per million people fatality rate for the US and the EU as a whole are virtually identical (0.62 for the US and 0.60 for the EU). By contrast, the injury rate in the EU is much higher (0.61 for the US and 1.34 for the EU).
This past year was a particularly bad one for Europe, with 8 Mass Public Shootings versus only 4 for the United States. Indeed, these 8 Mass Public Shootings for Europe in 2015 count for one-third of all their attacks over the entire seven year period of time…(read more)
Even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 12th compared to European countries.
Click on tables to enlarge them.
[PHOTO] Iran-Iraq Border: Iranian Female Students Play Around an Abandoned Tank in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, IranPosted: January 4, 2016
‘There are relics left along the Iran-Iraq boarders. A group of Iranian female students play around an abandoned tank [in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran]. Among them, one girl stands on the tank with her arms open.’ (Yanan Li / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest)
See more here
For $7,000, the newspaper’s journalists will serve as tour guides to the Islamic Republic. (Evin Prison is not on the itinerary.)
James Kirchick writes: On Nov. 23, the New York Times published its latest of more than half-a-dozen articles pleading for the Iranian government to release Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran correspondent who was imprisoned on charges of espionage more than 16 months ago. “Western officials hoped that the nuclear agreement would usher in a new era of broader cooperation with Iran,” the editorial board wrote. “But as they begin taking steps to ease economic sanctions on Iran, as called for in the deal, the treatment of Mr. Rezaian has intensified their concerns about whether Iran can be trusted to fulfill its nuclear commitments.”
The editorial’s most recent admonishment, like those that preceded it, managed to elide some relevant details about the newspaper’s relationship to the subject matter. First, the Times editorial board would clearly count as a member of any group looking forward to “a new era of broader cooperation with Iran.” Second, the Times has done far more than merely “hope” for such cooperation. While the newspaper has been demanding the release of an American journalist — one now facing a prison sentence of indeterminate length — some of its own journalists, under the auspices of their employer, have been engaging in a commercial enterprise that benefits his captors.
“Tales from Persia” is the exotic name the Times has given to the 13-day getaway to Iran it operates. For $7,195 (not including airfare), participants are invited to join columnist Roger Cohen, editorial board member Carol Giacomo (who is leading the trip that is currently ongoing), or Paris correspondent Elaine Sciolino and hear their insights about “the traditions and cultures of a land whose influence has been felt for thousands of years.” The itinerary for the seven upcoming departures promises “beautiful landscapes, arid mountains and rural villages.” Needless to say, Evin Prison, where the Iranian government houses political prisoners and Rezaian continues to languish, is not among the stops, though a visit to the home of the late Ayatollah Khomeini is. Read the rest of this entry »
John Nolte writes:
In Tuesday remarks to the staff and their families at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested there was a “rationale” for the January Islamic terror attacks against the journalists/cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, France, that resulted in the murder of 12 people.
“There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”
“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that,” Kerry told the group. “There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.” Read the rest of this entry »
Aaron MacLean writes: Twice during his train wreck of a press conference this morning in Turkey, President Obama cited the prospect of American military casualties as a major part of his reason for not using U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State. Lecturing an openly skeptical press corps—and, by extension, critics he accused of “popping off” and trying to “sound tough” without actually proposing anything serious—he condescendingly pointed out that ground combat is a serious business. Troops “get killed, they get injured, they are away from their families.”
“From the very outset, Obama has been dishonest about his goals. The biggest take-away of his embarrassing assertion to ABC News just before the Paris attacks that the Islamic State had been contained was indicative of this, and went largely unnoticed by the press.”
As it happens, I talk to Marines I served with in Afghanistan all the time. I am sure there must be a few out there who don’t want to take time “away from their families” in order to annihilate the Islamic State, risking death to do so, but I haven’t heard from them.
Marines have a word for this kind of thing. They call it their “job.” (In fact, I know more than a few who have left the Corps because they concluded they weren’t going to deploy to fight while Obama was still in office.)
” He has a vision for the future, of a United States that is no longer the primary enforcer of world order, but a responsible partner among other nations combating a wide array of challenges, most critically climate change. He has accepted as a risk that the citizens of Paris, or of Washington, might be murdered in large numbers as he sees his strategy through.”
In the press conference, Obama also said his top military advisers oppose ground action against the Islamic State. This might even be true: Obama fires military commanders who are too hawkish for him. It stands to reason that he appoints those who are going to be sympathetic to his views—officers who in some cases then suppress intelligence showing that the fight against the terrorists is failing.
“But as the Islamic State continues to metastasize, and Americans begin to reject Obama’s rhetoric, the president will find himself in a political dilemma.”
Regardless, after a performance like today’s, who would tell the president that ground action is needed? The man clearly doesn’t want to hear it, just as he clearly doesn’t want to entertain the possibility that there might be a middle course between his own demonstrably ineffective word-salad of a strategy and a re-enactment of the counterinsurgency campaigns of the last decade.
“Even if Hillary tacks to the right on national security after her primary challenge is concluded, Obama’s fecklessness could empower Republicans in 2016, thus risking his entire legacy. That, for Obama, would be a disaster.”
WASHINGTON — Rosie Gray reports: A Russian media mogul who helped found the Kremlin-run news channel RT was found dead in his hotel in Washington, D.C., according to reports.
“The Embassy does not have any further comment on the demise of Mr. Lesin out of respect to his privacy. Please refer to the family members or the law enforcement officials.”
— Russian Embassy spokesperson Yury Melnik told BuzzFeed News.
“Our consular officials had an opportunity to confirm that the Russian national who passed away in DC is indeed Mikhail Lesin. Out of respect to the privacy and sensitivity of the matter we are not at liberty to disclose any other information, and would ask you to refer all further requests to his family and the law enforcement officials.”
— Russian embassy spokesperson, to Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.
Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman told BuzzFeed News that there had been a death Thursday on the 1500 block of New Hampshire Avenue, where the Dupont Circle Hotel is located. An ABC News article on Lesin’s death reported that the location had been the “Hotel Dupont,” though a hotel by that exact name doesn’t exist in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »
TEHRAN — American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama were set ablaze on Wednesday as thousands gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the Iranian capital’s U.S. Embassy.
New and large anti-U.S. propaganda posters — including one mocking the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima — were spotted in Tehran….
…Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage. The hostages were held for more than 400 days and the crisis prompted the U.S. to sever ties with Iran….(read more)
Source: NBC News
From the YouTube video (above)
Iranians hold nationwide rallies, marking the 36th anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran. In the capital Tehran, people are gathering outside the building of the former American Embassy to chant slogans against US policies. November fourth is known as Student Day in Iran. 36 years ago today, a group of university students stormed the embassy building. Documents retrieved from the embassy showed the building had turned into a center of spying aimed at overthrowing the establishment following the victory of the Islamic Revolution just months earlier.
“I’m kind of like Martin Luther when he was on trial, and he said, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other.’ I mean, I dedicated my life to this,” Koch said. “The ideas we’ve been talking about transformed my life, and so it’s my mission. I feel a moral obligation to help other people learn these and transform their lives.”
“It’s frightening for the future of the country to have these public officials try to hurt and destroy private citizens who oppose what they’re doing rather than have a conversation and maybe find, as we’ve done with the White House, find areas where we can work together on things we agree to make the country better instead of this vitriol and these dishonest attacks.”
Read more at The Corner