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Operation Merlin is an alleged United States covert operation under the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon in order to delay the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
In his book State of War, author and New York Times intelligence correspondent James Risen claims that the CIA chose a defected Russian nuclear scientist to provide deliberately flawed nuclear warhead blueprints to Iranian officials in February 2000. Operation Merlin backfired when the Russian scientist noticed the flaws and pointed them out to the Iranians. Instead, the book alleges, it may have accelerated Iran's nuclear program by providing useful information, once the flaws were identified. Critics' contention Risen's citation of Seymour Hersh as well as anonymous sources make the book's claims somewhat suspicious.
On August 14th 2002, Alireza Jafarzadeh revealed the existence of two nuclear sites (Natanz, Arak) previously unknown to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This had many people worried that Iran might, now or later, get the capability to make a nuclear bomb. Since the revelation, the so-called EU-3 (Germany, France and Britain) have tried to pressure Iran to abandoning uranium enrichment. However, Iran has shown no sign of backing down, and after a few "voluntary suspensions", it began enriching uranium yet again.
Ultimately, the IAEA referred Iran to the UN Security Council, the body that can impose sanctions on Iran, or even authorize military action against the country, if Iran does not comply with its demands. Thus far, the Security Council has only agreed on a presidential statement, the weakest action that the body can take, demanding that Iran halt uranium enrichment. After the 30-days deadline passed without compliance by Iran, talks between Europe, Russia, China and the United States have begun yet again about how to handle the Iranian issue. The chance of getting China and Russia, supporters of Iran, to agree with sanctions was slim, but the Bush administration decided to take a gamble. Breaking with nearly 30 years of policy (not recognizing the Iranian regime), the administration offered bilateral talks with Iran on the nuclear issue, if Iran would halt uranium enrichment. It also offered some Euro-American economic and technological incentives for Iran, and the implicit threat of sanctions, if Iran does not accept the deal. Currently, the Iranians are deciding whether or not to accept the offer. President George W. Bush has said that Iran has weeks, not months to accept or reject the deal.
Involvement in 9/11Edit
In July of 2004, the 9/11 Commission unearthed evidence that Iran might have offered safe passage to Al-Qaeda members, who were later involved in the September 11th attacks. However, the CIA had found "no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of Sept. 11." Ultimately, the 9/11 Commission found that Iran did allow safe passage for Al-Qaeda members, but that it had no part in, and was probably not aware of the plot to strike New York and Washington.
Announcement of Enriched UraniumEdit
Then on April 12, 2006, came the news that Iran had completed the enrichment of uranium and sought to increase the enrichment to create industrial grade uranium. What was next? Weapons grade uranium? Many people in the West feared that the United States was planning military action against Iran, in part because of the resemblance between Bush's diplomatic campaign against Iraq and Iran. Also, the American president's harsh rhetoric against Iran has contributed to that perception. Bush, in a State of the Union message, said that Iraq, Iran and North Korea were part of an "Axis of Evil." In the 2006 State of the Union speech, he had mentioned that he wanted Iran to become democratic and free, because the current theocratic dictatorship does not reflect the wishes of the people of Iran, according to Bush. However whether or not there was to be a war was yet to be seen. Bush has not ruled out an attack against Iran, but he is apparently trying to downplay it.
Enriched Uranium MatterEdit
The matter about possible uranium enrichment in Iran was mentioned after the War in Iraq. Enrichment refers to the percentage of 238Uranium to 235Uranium.
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight. However, 235U is the only isotope existing in nature (in any appreciable amount) that is fissionable by thermal neutrons.
Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation.
During the Manhattan Project enriched uranium was given the codename oralloy, a shortened version of Oak Ridge alloy, after the location of the plants where the uranium was enriched. The term oralloy is still occasionally used to refer to enriched uranium. There are about 2,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in the world, produced mostly for nuclear weapons, naval propulsion, and smaller quantities for research reactors.
The 238U remaining after enrichment is known as depleted uranium (DU), and is considerably less radioactive than even natural uranium, though still extremely dense. It is useful for armor- penetrating weapons, and other applications requiring very dense metals, though at the present time, only 5% of it is put to any use; the rest remains in storage at the enrichment facilities.
International View on CrisisEdit
Russia and China so far are against any use of sanctions to make Iran abandon its enrichment program. Iran has always condemned U.S hegemony over it. Pakistan is afraid of U.S threats; otherwise it is also very close to Iran.
Arrest of Ramin JahanbeglooEdit
In May 2006, after he came back from India to Iran, he was arrested by the Iranian government, speculated to have a relation to his recent interview with a Spanish newspaper about Ahmadinejad's comments concerning the Holocaust.
On May 3, Iran judiciary branch officials confirmed that he has been arrested and now he is imprisoned in the Evin Prison. Additionally, an unconfirmed source told the Fars News Agency that he was charged with spying.
On May 4, a friend of his told CBC News that he has been transfered to a hospital.
On May 5, Human Rights Watch expressed concern about Ramin Jahanbegloo being detained without charge and stated that he must immediately be released.
On May 6, The Ottawa Citizen published an article containing concerns voiced by friends of Mr. Jahanbegloo that he was being tortured. These concerns become more urgent Friday, when it became known that Jahanbegloo had been examined twice in the medical clinic at Tehran's notorious Evin prison for political prisoners. Boston University Professor Houchang Chehabi, an Iranian friend of Mr. Jahanbegloo, indicated this was a "bad sign" because it "may mean he's been tortured..."
Kavoshgar-1 (Explorer-1) is the name of the first Iranian rocket type that is able to reach space. The first launch was conducted on February 4, 2008, as announced by state-run television (or maybe on February 25, 2007, as it is unknown if the two rockets launched are of the same type). Kavoshgar-1 is not, or not yet, able to carry a satellite, but only instruments to measure the higher atmosphere. The rocket launched on February 4, 2008, was a liquid propellant driven rocket, probably a derivate of the Shahab 3, that reached an orbit in space at an altitude of 200-250 km and successful returned science data according to the Iranian News Agency.
On February 19, 2008, Iran offered new information about the rocket and announced that Kavoshgar-1 is a two staged rocket. The first stage separated after 100 seconds and returned to earth with the help of a parachute. The second stage continued its ascend to the altitude of 200 kilometers. However it was not intended to reach orbital velocity.
The U.N. Security Council imposed another round of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, but Iran defiantly vowed Monday to continue its nuclear program despite the nearly unanimous censuring vote.
The resolution authorized a third set of sanctions targeting individuals, companies and equipment that could be used in Iran's nuclear program. It was adopted on a vote of 14-0, with Indonesia abstaining.
Two previous sanctions resolution were adopted unanimously, but diplomats said this vote still sent a strong message to the Tehran government that there is global concern that Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists the program is aimed only at generating power.
The council imposed limited sanctions in December 2006 and has been ratcheting them up in hopes of pressuring Iran to suspend enrichment and start negotiations on its nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly defied the demand and has stepped up enrichment activities.
Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazee said just before Monday's vote that his government would not comply with what he called "unlawful action" against Iran's "peaceful nuclear program." He said the Security Council was being "downgraded to a mere tool of the national foreign policy of just a few countries."
"Iran cannot and will not accept a requirement which is legally defective and politically coercive," Khazee said. "History tells us that no amount of pressure, intimidation and threat will be able to coerce our nation to give up its basic and legal rights."
Iran has been kicked out of an international defense show in Malaysia for exhibiting missile equipment in violation of U.N. rules, an official said Thursday.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Iranian companies were ordered out of the Defense Services Asia show Tuesday because their exhibition was deemed "offensive."
"Unfortunately, when we came around to inspecting their stand, they displayed equipment that clearly contravened the U.N. resolution — equipment such as missiles and missile systems and others," Najib told reporters.
"The moment they crossed the line, we had no option but to terminate them," Najib added.
Najib said the exhibit was in defiance of U.N. resolutions that ban Iranian arms exports and forbid countries from providing Iran with technical and financial assistance that could contribute to its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and meet other council demands designed to ease fears that its civilian nuclear program is a cover for attempts to make atomic weapons.
Tehran has denied ever trying to make nuclear arms.
Iran has lodged a formal protest at the United Nations about comments by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States would “totally obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday.
Iran’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi, sent a letter of protest on Wednesday to the United Nations secretary general and the United Nations Security Council denouncing the remarks, according to IRNA.
Mrs. Clinton made the comments in an interview on ABC last week. “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran,” she said when she was asked what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them,” she added.
Mr. Danesh-Yazdi wrote in the letter that Mrs. Clinton’s comments were “provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible” and “a flagrant violation” of the United Nations charter, IRNA reported.
“I wish to reiterate my government's position that the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention to attack any other nation,” the letter said.
Nonetheless “Iran would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation and to take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself,” the letter added.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised fresh doubts Thursday about the nature of Iran's nuclear program, saying if the clerical state really wanted only an avenue to peaceful atomic energy it could quickly have it.
Instead, Iran is stonewalling on an attractive deal to trade away only the part of the program that could result in a nuclear weapon, Rice said ahead of a gathering of the U.N. nations that have presented a carrot-or-stick package to Iran.
"I continue to suspect this is not at all about a civil nuclear program," Rice told reporters traveling with her. Iran's insistence that it be able to enrich uranium on its terms seems at cross-purposes with that goal, Rice said.
"One has to wonder what is going on here."
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a report last year that Iran shelved an active weapons-development program years ago, a finding that undercut the Bush administration's claim that Iran was using a public energy development program to hide a secret drive for a bomb. An unclassified summary of the report, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, said Iran could resume a weapons program and might evade detection if it did. Rice did not say whether she thought that had happened and did not directly accuse Iran of lying.
Problem left to SuccessorEdit
The United States and the European Union told Iran on Tuesday they were ready to impose more sanctions over its nuclear enrichment program.
But President George W. Bush acknowledged the limits of U.S. influence over Tehran and, in the twilight of his presidency, appeared resigned to leaving the standoff to his successor.
"I leave behind a multilateral framework to work on this issue," Bush said after a U.S.-EU summit at a Slovenian castle.
"A group of countries can send a clear message to the Iranians, and that is: We're going to continue to isolate you ... we'll find new sanctions if need be, if you continue to deny the just demands of the free world, which is to give up your enrichment program," he said.
He stopped short of repeating the U.S. position that all options, including military action, remain open. "Now is the time for there to be strong diplomacy," Bush said.
Iranian Responce to Election 2008Edit
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran told reporters during a trip to New Delhi, the Indian capital, that he believed neither Mrs. Clinton nor Barack Obama , the other Democratic presidential candidate, had a chance of winning the presidential election.
“Do you think a black candidate would be allowed to be president in the U.S.?” he asked, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported. “We don’t think Mr. Obama will be allowed to become the U.S. president,” he said.
Referring to Mrs. Clinton, he said: “Presidency of a woman in a country that boasts its gunmanship is unlikely.”
According to the IranianEdit
Also in the Iranian, an Iranian newsletter, it was said, "Her ideology has contributed to the nation's moral bankruptcy, the loss of over one million lives, and the depletion of America’s treasury. These neoliberals who have driven us into a quagmire, elaborated it would serve America’s interest to promote the Democratic peace theory. Scholars, university professors, and neoliberal jurists presented the concept that sovereignty, as it stood in international law did not provide immunity from attack to states engaging in systematic human rights abuses or amassing weapons of mass destruction. These would be considered ‘pariah’ states to be attacked by democratic coalitions with a warrant to liberalize them.3 Candidate Hillary comes from this stock. It seems that the only thing which differentiates her from McCain is the conduct of the war in Iraq, not the immoral and illegal war itself."
Gordon Brown on Iran and IsraelEdit
Gordon Brown threatened Iran with tougher sanctions as he became the first British prime minister to address the Israeli parliament.
At the conclusion of his first trip to Jerusalem as Premier, Mr Brown vowed that Britain would stand by Israel's side as it faced threats to its existence.
Condemning as "abhorrent" Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be wiped from the map, he said he would not stand by as Tehran sought to acquire nuclear weapons.
The Prime Minister also urged Israel to seize the opportunity of lasting peace with the Palestinians. He was heckled at one point as he raised again the need for Israelis to withdraw from settlements on Palestinian land - an issue over which he clashed with his opposite number, Ehud Olmert, on Sunday.
Mr Brown, who was greeted at the Knesset with a red carpet and guard of honor, pleased his audience of MPs and visitors with a Hebrew phrase soon into his speech, "Shalom aleichem", meaning peace be unto you.
He went on to describe his long-standing admiration for Israel, stemming from his churchman father's fascination with, and frequent visits, to the country. He said his premiership would ensure that Britain remained Israel's "true friend".
Syria and Iran Blame U.S. in Blast on Iraq BorderEdit
Iran joined Syria on Monday in condemning what they described as an attack by four United States helicopters on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq that they said killed eight people.
Reach of WarEdit
The United States confirmed that a special operations mission took place in the area on Sunday but a senior military official gave no more details for now.
The incident comes at a time when the United States is trying to negotiate a strategic agreement with Iraq that would allow American troops to remain in the country and carry out military operations. The pact faces strenuous opposition from neighboring countries, especially Syria and Iran, because of concerns that the United States might use Iraqi territory to carry out attacks on them.
Syria’s state-run news channel reported that United States helicopters on Sunday attacked an area within Syria near the town of Abu Kamal. The official news agency, SANA, cited an anonymous official as saying four American helicopters had “launched aggression on a civilian building under construction,” killing eight people, giving the details of those it said were killed, and that the Syrian deputy foreign minister had summoned the chargé d’affaires from the American and Iraqi Embassies in protest.
Syria also said that United States soldiers on the ground had stormed a building in the area, Reuters reported.
In Tehran, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hassan Qashqavi, condemned the attack, saying a violation of the territorial integrity of any sovereign state was unacceptable.
“Iran condemns in strongest terms any form of aggression or violation of the states’ territorial integrity which leads to the death of innocent civilians,” he told reporters, according to the official news agency IRNA.
Syria’s state-run media also intensified its criticism of the United States on Monday, with the government newspaper Tishrin accusing American forces of committing “a war crime,” Agence France-Presse said.
Iran asks India to be more active in gas pipeline planEdit
Iran's oil minister called on India to play a more active role in development of a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India, semi-official Mehr news agency reported. "In the light of the many wasted opportunities in the pipeline project because of stalling by India, we asked this country to be more active," Gholam Hossein Nozari said after meeting Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The 7.5 billion dollar project for the 2,600 kilometer (1,600 miles) Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline was launched in 1994 but has been held up by disagreements between India and Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan agreed last month to go ahead with the pipeline on a bilateral basis. Mukherjee, who was in Tehran for an official visit, said India "has no intention of quitting the project," Mehr reported. He also raised the possibility of a three-way meeting between Iran, Pakistan and India, though no date has yet been set.
New Delhi has been under pressure from the United States not to do business with Iran, viewed in Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism that is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iran holds the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia but remains a small-scale exporter because of heavy domestic consumption and the lack of exploitation of some of its gas fields.