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African Union blames US, UK, Norway for South Sudan civil war – leak

RT | March 6, 2015

By supporting South Sudan’s independence from Sudan, the US, UK and Norway have created conditions for the civil war, which broke out in the world’s youngest country in 2013, leaked documents from an inquiry by the African Union allege.

In 2005, the US, UK, Norway and the East African trading bloc, IGAD, pushed through a peace deal, which legitimized the South Sudanese rebels, and paved the way for the country’s independence in 2011.

According to a draft of the African Union inquiry obtained by Reuters, the actions of the Western powers helped establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan” that acted with impunity and legitimized “rule of the gun.”

At least 10,000 people were killed and another 1.5 million have been displaced since July 2013 when the fighting between the forces loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, and the militants led by his sacked deputy Riek Machar began.

The findings of the inquiry were to be presented to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in late January, but it was decided the document will be shelved.

According to a Reuters source, it was done due to concerns the publication may disrupt the talks on forming a transitional government in South Sudan, which are currently underway between Kiir and Machar.

The inquiry suggested that South Sudan’s president and his rival should “be barred from participation in the transitional executive,” and the oil producer should be effectively placed under African Union control for a period of five years.

The investigation, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said that Kiir and Machar are responsible for the political crisis in December 2013 and “the organized massacres and the large-scale violence that followed.”

Officials from the US, UK and Norway said that they won’t comment on the document, which they haven’t seen.

“I think that the investigation that the African Union has started and the commission’s position, it needs to be made public,” Borge Brende, Norway’s Foreign Minister, told NRK broadcaster.

The call to make the inquiry public is supported by Washington, London and the UN Security Council.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran repeats offer to IAEA to inspect Marivan site

Press TV – March 6, 2015

Iran has once again announced its readiness to allow the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) to visit a site in the country’s western region of Marivan.

Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said in a Thursday statement that Tehran has already asked the agency to visit the site to clear allegations of large-scale experiments on explosives.

According to the statement, the international body rejected the offer.

Najafi said the agency cannot cover up its mistake regarding false accusations against Iran by simply rejecting the Islamic Republic’s offer.

He said Iran has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as baseless and fabricated.

A 2011 IAEA report claimed that it had information indicating large-scale high-explosive experiments at the site, which is located more than 700 kilometers west of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

On November 20, 2014, Najafi said Iran will, on a “voluntarily basis,” give the Vienna-based IAEA access to the Marivan site.

Iran-IAEA cooperation

Iran has been cooperating with the IAEA as part of efforts to provide more transparency on the country’s peaceful nuclear program on a voluntary basis.

A team from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, headed by Tero Varjoranta, IAEA’s deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, is due in Tehran later in the month for technical talks.

The last technical meeting between the two sides was held in November.

Iran says it has granted the IAEA access to the sites that the agency claims need to be investigated in order to clarify outstanding issues.

The Islamic Republic has time and again emphasized its readiness for full cooperation with the IAEA.

Separately, Iran and the P5+1 group – Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – are negotiating to narrow their differences over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program ahead of a July 1 deadline for a comprehensive agreement.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

United States is not “entitled to be displeased” with Cyprus – FM

By Ioannis Kasoulides • FAMAGUSTA GAZETTE • March 4, 2015

CYPRUS – FOREIGN MINISTER Ioannis Kasoulides has hit back at the US government, after officials in Washington expressed displeasure at a recent trip to Moscow by President Nicos Anastasiades.

“The [US] discontent focused on the fact that they believe that Putin’s government should be isolated by the 28 EU Member States and all other members of the North Atlantic Alliance”, Kasoulides was quoted as telling CyBC, by Russian agency Sputnik.

But he added that the United States is not “entitled to be displeased,” as Washington does not seem to be concerned by the aggressive policy of Turkey toward Cyprus, at the same time blaming Moscow for the crisis in Ukraine.

Washington rebuked Anastasiades on Monday after his widely publicised trip to Russia last week.

The US signaled how angry it is with Cyprus when Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State said this is not the time for “business as usual with Russia”.

She made the unusually sharp remark after being asked to comment on the recent visit of Anastasiades to Moscow and St Petersburg.

The visit came amid strong Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, the worst since the Cold War.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

US fails to take Cuba off list of state sponsors of terrorism

Press TV – February 28, 2015

The United States and Cuba have held another round of talks to reestablish diplomatic relations and explore the possibility of opening embassies in Washington and Havana.

However, the Friday talks left a serious issue unresolved as Washington has failed to remove Cuba from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” so far.

The US said it was still reviewing Cuba’s place on the list maintaining that the issue is separate from the talks and won’t affect the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

However, the head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said that the removal from the terror list was a “very important issue” and a priority for Havana.

“It would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the US have re-established normal diplomatic relations while Cuba is kept on that list that we believe we have never belonged to,” Vidal said.

The US State Department says the process is more complicated than it seems. If President Barack Obama wants to remove Cuba from the list, he must forward that to Congress and it cannot take effect for 45 days according to the law.

Following the talks, the head of the US delegation expressed optimism that the two countries could re-open embassies before a regional summit in April.

On December 17, Obama announced that Washington will start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in US foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.

Several Republican lawmakers have criticized Obama for trying to restore relations with Cuba because they say it could provide the Caribbean nation with legitimacy and money while it continues with its alleged human rights violations.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Argentine judge rejects cover-up charges in AMIA case

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Press TV – February 26, 2015

An Argentine judge has dismissed cover-up charges against the country’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the 1994 AMIA case.

Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas said there were no elements to justify continuation of an investigation on an alleged political effort by President Kirchner to cover up the role claimed to have been played by Iran in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

The documents against Kirchner failed to meet “the minimal conditions needed to launch a formal court investigation,” the judge added.

Argentina’s Federal Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita is expected to appeal the ruling.

Pollicita replaced Alberto Nisman who was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in the capital, Buenos Aires, on January 18.

The initial police report said Nisman had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Nisman’s death came hours before he was to testify in a congressional hearing about the AMIA attack.

The prosecutor had accused a number of high-ranking Argentine officials including President Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and lawmaker Andrés “Cuervo” Larroqu of trying to ‘protect Iranians’ in the case.

The Argentinean president has frequently dismissed the claim against Iran, saying the late prosecutor’s allegations were baseless and absurd.

The “real move against the government was the prosecutor’s death…. They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead. It is that sad and terrible,” the Buenos Aires Herald quoted Kirchner as saying on January 22.

In July 1994, a car bomb exploded at the building of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, also known as AMIA, in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people died and some 300 were injured.

The Israeli regime accuses Tehran of masterminding the terrorist attack. The Islamic Republic of Iran has strongly denied any involvement in the incident.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

French PM decries MPs for meeting Assad

Press TV – February 26, 2015

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has slammed a move by three French lawmakers to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I want to condemn this initiative with the greatest strength,” Valls said on Thursday.

“For parliamentarians to go without warning to meet a butcher…. I think it was a moral failing,” he said.

A French Parliamentary delegation headed by French Senator Jean-Pierre Vial, Chairman of the Syrian-French friendship Committee, met with Assad on Wednesday.

“We met Bashar al-Assad for a good hour. It went very well,” Jacques Myard, an MP from the opposition Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party, also said.

The French lawmaker described the trip as “a personal mission to see what is going on, to hear [and] listen.”

According to the Syrian state television, the two sides had discussed “the state of Syrian-French relations, as well as the developments in the Arab world and Europe, especially with regard to terrorism.”

During the meeting, Assad said fighting terrorism demands real political will and belief in the fact that the outcome will be in the interest of all people while the dangers will threaten all countries.

“If this issue could be tackled based on this principle, surely we will soon witness tangible positive results,” added the president.

France cut diplomatic ties with Syria in 2012 and supports the militants in Syria, who seek the removal of Assad from power.

The US and its allies, including France, have been throwing their weight behind Takfiri ISIL militants, currently wreaking havoc on Syria and Iraq, in past years.

Reports say US military instructors trained the militants at a secret base in Jordan in 2012. According to reports, some 1,000 French nationals from a wide range of backgrounds are estimated to have left the European country to join the Takfiri militants in Iraq and Syria. Some 400 of them are thought to be currently operating on the ground, while almost 50 were killed.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

Argentine Congress votes to scrap intelligence agency

Press TV – February 26, 2015

Argentine legislators have voted to disband the South American country’s intelligence agency and replace it with a new federal body that will be accountable to the Congress.

The lower house of Congress voted 131 to 71 in favor of the bill, which had already been approved by the Senate.

The measure came after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner drafted a proposal last month to dissolve the Secretariat of Intelligence (SI) and set up a new service to be called the Federal Intelligence Agency, after the government said a renegade spy was linked to the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Fernandez has said Antonio Stiuso, who for years was the powerful director of operations at the SI, pushed Nisman into filing a formal criminal complaint against her, and was involved in the prosecutor’s death.

On Tuesday, Oscar Parilli, who was appointed as the SI director in December last year, said Stiuso and others had illegally imported electronic goods and other equipment between 2013 and 2014.

Parrilli said the ring made use of a special law that allows the SI to import secret equipment, and illegally imported electronic goods as well as other equipment, without paying taxes or informing customs officials.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers have voiced their discontent with the decision to dissolve Argentina’s intelligence body, arguing that the General Attorney’s Office would now be in charge of overseeing all wiretaps.

“The most important issue is the lack of oversight,” opposition lawmaker Manuel Garrido said.

He added, “What worries us is that there has not been, nor will there be proper control.”

Garrido said he offered an alternative bill that incorporated stricter controls, but it was obstructed by the ruling coalition.

February 26, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Foiling of a Coup Plot in Venezuela

By GLORIA La RIVA | CounterPunch | February 25, 2015

A coup plot against President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution was thwarted this week as a retired Venezuelan Air Force general and 10 military and civilian opposition figures were arrested.

The bombing of the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly, Telesur TV network, the Defense Ministry and other Caracas sites was to take place February 12, the one-year anniversary of violent anti-government attacks known as “guarimbas,” which caused 43 deaths. A Tucano EMB 312 bomber would have been flown by renegade Air Force First Lieutenant José Antich Zapata to destroy the targeted sites.

U.S. spokesperson Jen Psaki and the Venezuelan far-right are dismissing the plot claim, but video evidence, a map of the bombing targets, and other key evidence have been unveiled on national television, with more details promised. Washington’s role in previous plots has been proven before.

According to President Maduro, detained coup leaders have confessed their role. He spoke on national television Sunday morning, to reveal more facts and accuse the United States government of conspiring with coup plotters.

Antich Zapata received U.S. visas for himself and other conspirators from the U.S. embassy in Caracas, for escape from Venezuela in case the plot failed.

Maduro also said that the script of an eight-minute video by the coup group – to air once the government was overthrown – was written with the help of a U.S. embassy advisor.

Rightwing opposition involved

In obvious preparation for the failed coup, three of the most belligerent opposition figures – Maria Corina Machado, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma – issued a “Call for a National Transition Agreement,” on February 11, the day before the overthrow was to take place. Lopez is currently awaiting trial for his role in the violent attacks last February.

The “transition agreement” is a plan for overthrow of the Bolivarian Revolution socialist project, including a demand for felony trials of current government leaders after the “transition,” the privatization of nationalized industries, and the takeover of PDVSA, the state-owned oil industry that has been the source of great social developments in Venezuela since 1999.

As if aware of a pending coup, German embassy representative Jorg Polster issued a letter of warning on February 5 to German citizens residing in Venezuela, to take unusual precautions such as in the event of “political unrest like that which began in the spring of 2014.” The letter suggests the German nationals obtain a two-week supply of food, water and emergency provisions of battery, radio and important documents. The letter also indicates a loss of electricity and Internet access could be a possibility.

National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello and Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas – both leaders of Maduro’s political high command – also appeared on television, denouncing Julio Borges, leader of the right-wing group, Primero Justicia (“Justice First” in English), as drafting the list of the 20-plus targets to be bombed.

An unfolding plot since January

A series of actions was planned by the counterrevolutionaries to lead up to February 12.

First step was economic destabilization through major corporate hoarding of goods to create empty stores and mass discontent. That has been taking place for weeks, with the right-wing then accusing the socialist government of economic failure.

The government countered with “Operation Dignity,” confiscating the hoarded goods for redistribution at fair prices to the population, and arresting the corporate conspirators.

The second step was internationally-generated false accusations of a “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela by the U.S. and international allies of Washington.

It is thus no coincidence that on January 24, three right-wing former presidents of Latin American countries, Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Sebastian Pinera of Chile came to Venezuela and tried to visit jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Afterwards, they demanded his freedom and held a press conference accusing Venezuela of human rights violations.

On February 3, President Maduro warned Washington to stop its interventionist meddling, and accused U.S. officials of trying to bribe current and former government leaders to betray the government.

Via Telesur, he denounced U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden’s recent meetings with various Latin American leaders, in which he told them Maduro’s government would soon fall, and that the Petrocaribe program would be ended. Biden advised them to “keep Venezuela isolated.” Petrocaribe is the Venezuelan program that provides oil to Caribbean nations at a low price.

Telesur as target

Why was Telesur one of the targets to be bombed?

In 2002, when a fascist coup by a sector of the military and corporate opposition overthrew President Hugo Chavez from April 11 to 13, Venezuela’s revolution was new and a people’s media had not yet developed.

In the critical hours of the massive and spontaneous popular mobilization to demand Chavez’s release and return as president, the monopoly corporate media completely blocked out the news. It was clear that the Bolivarian process needed a revolutionary media to transmit vital information to the population.

Since then, dozens of community and television stations have been established; corporate violators of the new Communications Law have had their licenses revoked.

The Telesur network – promoting the integration of Latin America – was proposed 10 years ago by Chavez. It has become a vital conveyor of national and international information with a solid anti-imperialist prospective.

It provided uncensored live coverage and exposed the terror bombing by NATO/U.S. bombing of Libya.

Like the brutal bombing of Serbia’s national TV station, killing scores of journalists who courageously covered the criminal NATO/U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the planned bombing of Telesur was part of the plan to destroy the Revolution and install a fascist coup.

The smashing of this latest plot against Venezuela is a major blow to U.S. imperialism’s attempts to reverse the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela, the Cuban Revolution and all progress in Latin America.

Revolutionary mass organizations and the military high command are declaring their unity and defense of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

Vladimir Padrino Lopez, the Minister of Defense and Strategic Operational Commander of the FANB, stood with a large group of high-ranking military officers to denounce the military plot. “The Bolivarian Armed Forces reiterates its support and loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro Moros and reaffirms its commitment to the will of the people, with the Plan of the Homeland, in the building of Socialism.”

More than ever, it is vital that international solidarity be mobilized to demand an end to U.S. machinations in Venezuela and all Latin America. Progressive groups and leaders in Latin America are expressing their support for Maduro’s government. From March 5-7, organizations in several cities in the United States plan actions in solidarity with the Venezuelan Bolivarian government and its people in struggle.

The danger is not over. The lessons of Latin America in the 1960s, 1970s and the U.S. war against revolutionary movements everywhere shows that the struggle must continue to defend Venezuela’s gains and oppose U.S. imperialism’s counter-revolutionary schemes.

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OSCE neglects its mandate in Ukraine – Moscow

RT | February 25, 2015

The OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine is not fulfilling its mandate to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire, Moscow charges. The monitors complain that they can’t verify withdrawal of weapons without additional data.

In its latest report, the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said its monitors are unable to verify the withdrawal until both Kiev and the rebels provide comprehensive “inventories, withdrawal routes and concentration points” for their respective arsenals.

The rebels say they have sent an inventory to the OSCE and that the observers are rejecting invitations to witness the actual movements of the weapons.

“Every day they have new conditions to put forward. For instance, [on Thursday] they demanded a concrete route for the artillery. Well, that heavy hardware doesn’t travel on the roads, but OSCE monitors wouldn’t care to go into the fields,” complained Eduard Basurin, a rebel spokesman.

The official added that the anti-government forces are not rejecting the OSCE’s role in tackling the withdrawal and that they want an increased presence of the monitors on the ground.

“We believe the OSCE’s role is crucial. Once again we confirm that we are interested in OSCE presence at all weapons-withdrawal events. The OSCE must be present to monitor the withdrawal of the weapons by both sides,” Basurin said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow regretted that the monitoring mission “showed a lack of proper effort to execute the functions entrusted to it” and avoids monitoring the withdrawal of weapons.

The OSCE confirmed that the number of reported violations of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has decreased. It added that a joint group of military monitors, which includes representatives from Ukraine, the rebel forces and Russia, provided a map of the conflict zone with “a definite line of contact agreed upon by all,” which can be viewed as a step forward in ending the violence.

Most complaints filed lately came from villages near Donetsk airport and the town of Shyrokoye, some 25km east of Mariupol, said the report.

The continued violence close to Mariupol, a large port under government control, is arguably the greatest danger to the fragile truce in Ukraine. Kiev accuses its opponents of preparing a full-scale invasion of the city, an accusation the rebels deny.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned on Wednesday that an attack on Mariupol would derail the entire peace process and demanded that Moscow prevent it.

“We’ve told the Russians clearly that if there was a separatist attack in the direction of Mariupol things would be drastically altered, including in terms of sanctions,” Fabius said in an interview with France Info radio station.

He also commented on UK’s plan to send military instructors to train Ukrainian troops, a step that’s escalating tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

“The Britons, who are not part of the discussions, have taken a hardline stance on the situation,” Fabius said in reference to British PM David Cameron’s Tuesday announcement. “We have also taken a firm position, but are pushing for the de-escalation of the conflict.”

France, along with Germany, was a major driving European power involved in brokering the Minsk peace deal in mid-February. Meanwhile in Britain and the US a large number of officials advocate for providing military aid to Kiev, which they say would serve as deterrent to Russia.

Moscow says the proposed inflow of weapons and the unwillingness of Kiev’s foreign sponsors to put pressure on them and make them hold fire only aggravates the situation.

Britain’s decision to send troops to Ukraine was hailed on Wednesday by Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, who said it was a step in the right direction and that Poland is keeping its own options open to help Kiev.

Germany said it is not planning to send troops or sell weapons to Kiev.

Read mor:

US arming Kiev would ‘explode’ situation in E. Ukraine – Russian Foreign Ministry

E. Ukraine artillery withdrawal focus of FMs meeting – as Poroshenko buys UAE weapons

February 25, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Interventionism Kills: Post-Coup Ukraine One Year Later

By Ron Paul | February 22, 2015

It was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. That coup was not only supported by US and EU governments — much of it was actually planned by them. Looking back at the events that led to the overthrow it is clear that without foreign intervention Ukraine would not be in its current, seemingly hopeless situation.

By the end of 2013, Ukraine’s economy was in ruins. The government was desperate for an economic bailout and then-president Yanukovych first looked west to the US and EU before deciding to accept an offer of help from Russia. Residents of south and east Ukraine, who largely speak Russian and trade extensively with Russia were pleased with the decision. West Ukrainians who identify with Poland and Europe began to protest. Ukraine is a deeply divided country and the president came from the eastern region.

At this point the conflict was just another chapter in Ukraine’s difficult post-Soviet history. There was bound to be some discontent over the decision, but if there had been no foreign intervention in support of the protests you would likely not be reading this column today. The problem may well have solved itself in due time rather than escalated into a full-out civil war. But the interventionists in the US and EU won out again, and their interventionist project has been a disaster.

The protests at the end of 2013 grew more dramatic and violent and soon a steady stream of US and EU politicians were openly participating, as protesters called for the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Senator John McCain made several visits to Kiev and even addressed the crowd to encourage them.

Imagine if a foreign leader like Putin or Assad came to Washington to encourage protesters to overthrow the Obama Administration!

As we soon found out from a leaked telephone call, the US ambassador in Kiev and Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, were making detailed plans for a new government in Kiev after the legal government was overthrown with their assistance.

The protests continued to grow but finally on February 20th of last year a European delegation brokered a compromise that included early elections and several other concessions from Yanukovych. It appeared disaster had been averted, but suddenly that night some of the most violent groups, which had been close to the US, carried out the coup and Yanukovych fled the country.

When the east refused to recognize the new government as legitimate and held a referendum to secede from the west, Kiev sent in tanks to force them to submit. Rather than accept the will of those seeking independence from what they viewed as an illegitimate government put in place by foreigners, the Obama administration decided to blame it all on the Russians and began imposing sanctions!

That war launched by Kiev has lasted until the present, with a ceasefire this month brokered by the Germans and French finally offering some hope for an end to the killing. More than 5,000 have been killed and many of those were civilians bombed in their cities by Kiev.

What if John McCain had stayed home and worried about his constituents in Arizona instead of non-constituents 6,000 miles away? What if the other US and EU politicians had done the same? What if Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had focused on actual diplomacy instead of regime change?

If they had done so, there is a good chance many if not all of those who have been killed in the violence would still be alive today. Interventionism kills.

February 23, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Russia offers Iran latest anti-aircraft missile system

Press TV – February 23, 2015

The head of Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec says Moscow has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missile defense systems after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was scrapped under Western pressure.

Tehran is now considering the offer, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Sergei Chemezov as saying on Monday.

“As far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet,” Chemezov said.

There was no immediate response to Chemezov’s comments from Iran.

Under a contract signed in 2007, Russia was obliged to provide Iran with at least five S-300 defense systems.

However, Moscow refused to deliver the system to Iran under the pretext that it is covered by the fourth round of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.

Following Moscow’s failure to deliver the systems, Iran filed a complaint against the Russian arms firm Rosoboronexport with the International Court of Arbitration in Geneva.

The Antey-2500 was developed from the 1980s-generation S-300V system (SA-12A Gladiator and SA-12B Giant). It can engage missiles travelling at 4,500 meters per second, with a range of 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles), according to the company that makes it, Almaz-Antey.

The S-300 missiles have a 125-mile (200-kilometers) range.

February 23, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Iran Halts New Sensitive Nuclear Centrifuge Tests: IAEA

Al-Akhbar | February 20, 2015

Iran has refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a centrifuge used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with six world powers, a UN report showed, allaying concerns it might be violating the accord.

An interim accord in 2013 between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia stipulated Tehran could continue its “current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices,” implying they should not be stepped up.

But a UN nuclear agency report in November said Iran had been feeding one of several new models under development, the so-called IR-5 centrifuge, with uranium gas, prompting a debate among analysts on whether this may have been a violation.

A confidential document by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), distributed among its member states on Thursday and obtained by Reuters, showed the IR-5 had been disconnected.

“The disconnection reflects Iran addressing concerns about its enrichment (of uranium),” said the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear program.

“The disconnection provides additional confidence that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the 2013 agreement.

International talks have been resumed in Geneva on Friday with the aim of narrowing remaining gaps in negotiations to end Iran’s 12-year standoff with the six powers.

Washington suspects Iran’s nuclear program is designed to develop nuclear weapons; Iran denies this, saying it is for peaceful purposes.

The deal sought by the powers would have Iran accept limits to its uranium enrichment capacity and open up to unfettered IAEA inspections.

In return, Iran would see a lifting of international trade and financial sanctions that hobbled its oil-based economy.

The IAEA document about the UN inquiry, which has run parallel to the big power talks, was issued to IAEA member states only weeks before a deadline in late March for a framework agreement between Iran and the powers.

They have set themselves a deadline for a final deal at the end of June. Two deadlines for a permanent agreement have already been missed since the November 2013 interim deal.

Negotiators are now working toward reaching a political framework by March 31, with the final technical details to be laid out in a comprehensive accord by June 30.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that his country would resist global sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, saying that Iran might respond to international pressure by cutting back gas exports.

“If sanctions are to be the way, the Iranian nation can also do it. A big collection of the world’s oil and gas is in Iran, so Iran if necessary can hold back on the gas that Europe and the world is so dependent on,” Khamenei said.

Disagreements in the talks between Iran and P5+1 center on the extent of nuclear activities Iran would be allowed to continue and the timetable for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear efforts.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

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