Iran invites IAEA inspectors to extend visit
Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi told journalists that the three day inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency can be extended “if they desire”. Iranian officials have insisted that Iran’s quest for nuclear energy is for peaceful purposes and “the remarks appear to be part of a show of flexibility and transparency by Tehran”. (Time 01/30)
Panetta: It would take Iran 2-3 years to have deliverable nuke
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on 60 minutes this past weekend and said, “the consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.” Panetta has previously made it clear that Iran has not decided to go forward with building a nuclear weapon and that this is the U.S. redline. (The Hill 01/30)
Vote to cutoff oil exports to EU delayed
Iranian lawmakers on Sunday delayed a vote on a bill to immediately halt oil exports to the European Union. The bill would have pre-empted an oil embargo approved by the EU last week. (WJP 01/30)
A decision by Iran to cut oil exports to the European Union will affect the price of oil and hurt the region’s economy, OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri told CNBC on Monday. El Bardi said that, “Today…the market is stable, there is no shortage of oil anywhere in the world,” he said. “However, to take out 400-500,000 barrels a day in a matter of days, this will affect the price. Of course the price will go up.” However , he also argued that the demand for oil is also weakening because of the protracted debt crisis in the euro zone, “when I see the EU debt crisis, it’s a problem, if not solved it will affect…almost everybody. The world growth will be less, there is no decoupling at this time,”.(CNBC 01/30)
Meanwhile, India reiterated it won’t cut back on Iran oil imports despite new U.S. and EU sanctions. (Washington Post 01/30)
Series of deaths reported within the Revolutionary Guard
“Over the last few days, four former commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps passed away without the usual condolences to their families from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.” (Tehran Bureau 01/28)
Pressure on Ahmadinejad
“Alef, the website that is published by Majles deputy Ahmad Tavakoli, a prominent Ahmadinejad critic, demanded that parliament declare the president incompetent under Article 89 of the Constitution, so that he can be impeached. Hossein Shariatmadari, the hardline managing editor of the newspaper Kayhan, accused Ahmadinejad of working with the United States.” (Tehran Bureau 01/28)
Iranian Scientist Arrested in the U.S.
Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an Iranian professor, is being held in a U.S. prison in California, federal prison records show. Associated Press reported yesterday that Atarodi had been arrested and charged with buying scientific instruments from the U.S., citing a Sharif University spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Bloomberg 01/27)
Notable Opinion: Will Israel Really Attack Iran?
Gary Sick writes takes issue in Tehran Bureau with the New York Times Magazine cover story, “Will Israel Attack Iran?“, in which author Ronen Bergman concludes that Israel is likely strike Iran in 2012:
Back to top
“Not only is his conclusion at odds with virtually everything he produces as evidence, but there are some omissions in his analysis that regrettably have become predictably routine in talking about the Iranian nuclear program.
He darkly quotes “the latest intelligence” about the number and current activity of Iran’s centrifuges. Where did he get that secret information? Well, just like you or me, he can read the periodic reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which are published on the web virtually the same day they are handed to member states. How did the IAEA get that “intelligence”? Not hard: they have inspectors in all the sites where Iran is producing enriched uranium. These inspectors, who make frequent surprise visits, keep cameras in place to watch every move, and they carefully measure Iran’s input of feed stock to the centrifuges and the output of low-enriched uranium, which is then placed under seal. You would think that would be worth mentioning, at least in passing, but it gets overlooked by virtually every journalist writing on this subject.
Like virtually all other commentators on this issue, Bergman slides over the fact that the IAEA consistently reports that Iran has diverted none of its uranium to military purposes. Like others, he focuses on the recent IAEA report, which was the most detailed to date in discussing Iran’s suspected experiments with military implications; but like others, he fails to mention that the suspect activity took place seven or more years ago and there is no reliable evidence that it has resumed. A problem, yes; an imminent threat, no.”