Iran racing to expand enrichment at underground plant, confidential IAEA report shows

Iran racing to expand enrichment at underground plant, confidential IAEA report shows
Tehran has brought onstream an ever larger number of advanced centrifuges. (AFP/File)
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Updated 11 October 2022

Iran racing to expand enrichment at underground plant, confidential IAEA report shows

Iran racing to expand enrichment at underground plant, confidential IAEA report shows

VIENNA: Iran is rapidly expanding its ability to enrich uranium with advanced centrifuges at its underground plant at Natanz and now intends to go further than previously planned, a confidential UN nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters showed on Monday.
While indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled, Tehran has brought onstream an ever larger number of advanced centrifuges the deal bans it from using to produce enriched uranium.
These machines are far more efficient than the first-generation IR-1, the only centrifuge that the deal lets Iran use to grow its stock of enriched uranium. Iran has been adding them particularly at two underground sites at Natanz and Fordow that may be designed to withstand potential aerial bombardment.
The third of three cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-6 centrifuges recently installed at the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz has now come onstream, said the International Atomic Energy Agency report to member states. Diplomats say the IR-6 is Iran’s most advanced centrifuge.

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Iran has also quickly completed the installation of seven cascades that were either not finished or at a very early stage of installation on Aug. 31, Monday’s ad hoc report showed. End-August marked the last visit by inspectors mentioned in the IAEA’s most recent quarterly report.
Those seven cascades, one of IR-4 centrifuges and six of IR-2m machines, were fully installed but not yet enriching, Monday’s report said.
Iran has also informed the IAEA it plans to add an extra three cascades of IR-2m machines at the FEP, on top of the 12 already announced and now installed, the report showed.
Of those three extra IR-2m cascades, installation has already started on two of them, the report said.
The report also showed that all the centrifuges enriching at Natanz were still producing uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas enriched to up to 5 percent but now they were being fed with natural UF6. That contrasted to the quarterly report issued in September that said on Aug. 31 the centrifuges were being fed with UF6 enriched to up to 2 percent. It did not explain the change.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran deal and re-imposed sanctions against Iran that the deal had lifted. Iran responded by breaching the restrictions on its nuclear activities imposed by the deal.
If the deal is revived Iran will have to put its advanced centrifuges into storage, diplomats say.


Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 strikes southern Iran; felt in UAE — EMSC

Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 strikes southern Iran; felt in UAE — EMSC
Updated 58 min 2 sec ago

Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 strikes southern Iran; felt in UAE — EMSC

Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 strikes southern Iran; felt in UAE — EMSC
  • Iranian state TV reported that rescue teams were dispatched to the quake-hit area and added there were no casualties

DUBAI: An Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 struck southern Iran on Wednesday and was felt in the United Arab Emirates, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said.
Iranian state TV reported that rescue teams were dispatched to the quake-hit area and added there were no casualties.
The quake was at a depth of 10 km (6 miles) and about 88 km northwest of Ras Al Khaimah City in the UAE, EMSC added.


Daesh announces death of leader

Daesh announces death of leader
Updated 30 November 2022

Daesh announces death of leader

Daesh announces death of leader
  • Speaking in an audio message, the spokesman identified the group’s new leader as Abu Al-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi

BEIRUT: Daesh said Wednesday that its leader Abu Hasan Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi has been killed in battle and announced a replacement.
A spokesman for the group said Hashimi, an Iraqi, was killed “in combat with enemies of God,” without elaborating on the date of his death or the circumstances.
Speaking in an audio message, the spokesman identified the group’s new leader as Abu Al-Hussein Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi.
After a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory, Daesh saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under a wave of offensives.
It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the Sunni Muslim extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries and claim attacks elsewhere in the world.
The group’s previous leader, Abu Ibrahim Al-Qurashi, was killed earlier this year in a US raid in Idlib province in northern Syria.
His predecessor Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed, also in Idlib, in October 2019.


Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day
Updated 30 November 2022

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day

Egypt expresses support for Palestinians on international solidarity day
  • Aboul Gheit criticized the international community’s inaction over continued Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people
  • The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country stands with Palestine on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

CAIRO: The Arab League celebrated on Nov. 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People with a high-level diplomatic and cultural event in Cairo.
The event was attended by many representatives of Arab countries and foreign diplomats in Cairo as well as a number of public figures.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the bloc, delivered an opening speech at the event, which also witnessed speeches by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, and representatives of the UN, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Egyptian Church.
Aboul Gheit criticized the international community’s inaction over continued Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people, including the killing of civilians by the occupation forces, the recent incursions and the unjust siege Israel has imposed on more than 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for 15 years.
He specifically thanked the new Australian government for its reversal of a previous government’s decision to relocate the Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem.
He warned of the consequences of countries transferring their embassies to occupied Jerusalem and urged those that did to retract their decision, just like Australia.
Aboul Gheit called on the countries of the world to recognize the Palestinian state in order for it to obtain full membership in the UN.
He also appealed to the international community to support Palestinian diplomatic efforts to present the issue of occupation at the International Court of Justice, stressing that this path is what gives Palestinians hope that the world has not abandoned them.
Meanwhile, Al-Maliki gave a presentation on the dangers associated with the formation of a right-wing government in Israel and the negative repercussions this entails for the two-state vision.
Aboul Gheit emphasized the need to put the recent Algiers summit decisions into action by backing the Palestinians and confronting the Israeli extreme right.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country stands with Palestine on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and will always support the Palestinian cause as the central issue of the Arab world.
The ministry stressed that Egypt’s position with regard to the Palestinian issue has not changed and will not change.
It is not conceivable that regional stability will be achieved in the Middle East without a just and comprehensive settlement of the issue on the basis of the two-state solution, it added.
Egypt stressed the need to put an end to the cycle of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and to stop taking unilateral measures, foremost of which are illegal settlement activities, policies of eviction of Palestinians in Jerusalem, changes to the demographic character of the city and the division of Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings, the statement said.
Egypt said it will, with the help of the international community, keep making unceasing and earnest efforts to restart the peace process and persuade parties to come together for negotiations.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed with Al-Maliki the coordination of efforts at the regional and international levels to put the Palestinian cause back under the spotlight.
Shoukry expressed Egypt’s deep concern about developments in the occupied territories.
He said Egypt will always support the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In 1977, the UN General Assembly declared Nov. 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.


Rights group: 47 children among at least 378 killed in Iran protest crackdown

Rights group: 47 children among at least 378 killed in Iran protest crackdown
Updated 30 November 2022

Rights group: 47 children among at least 378 killed in Iran protest crackdown

Rights group: 47 children among at least 378 killed in Iran protest crackdown
  • The Islamic republic has been gripped by protests that erupted over Amini’s death on September 16
PARIS: Iranian security forces have killed at least 378 people — including 47 children — in a crackdown on protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, a rights group said in an updated toll Saturday.
The Islamic republic has been gripped by protests that erupted over Amini’s death on September 16, three days after her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.
The protests were fanned by fury over the dress rules for women, but have grown into a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since the 1979 revolution.
“At least 378 protesters, including 47 children, have been killed by the oppressive forces since September 16,” Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said.
The figure represents an increase of 36 since the Norway-based group issued its previous toll on Wednesday.
It includes at least 123 people killed in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan, on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan, 40 in both Kurdistan and Tehran provinces and 39 in West Azerbaijan province.
Iran Human Rights warned that the regime had been mounting a “campaign of spreading lies” ahead of a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council next week.
“They have two goals by attributing the killing of the protesters to terrorist groups like Daesh,” Amiry-Moghaddam said, referring to the Daesh group.
“They want to use it as an excuse for more widespread use of live ammunition,” he said.
“And they also want to influence countries in the UN Human Rights Council who will gather on November 24 in a special session considering establishing an independent investigation and accountability mechanism” over the crackdown in Iran, he added.

Three teens among 15 Iranians facing death penalty: Judiciary

Three teens among 15 Iranians facing death penalty: Judiciary
Updated 30 November 2022

Three teens among 15 Iranians facing death penalty: Judiciary

Three teens among 15 Iranians facing death penalty: Judiciary
  • Iran has been rocked by street violence since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini
  • A group of 15 people was charged with "corruption on earth" over the death of Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij paramilitary force

TEHRAN: Three Iranian teenagers are among 15 people who could face the death penalty over the killing of a pro-government paramilitary force member, the judiciary said Wednesday.
Iran has been rocked by street violence since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women.
A group of 15 people was charged with “corruption on earth” over the death of Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij paramilitary force, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported.
Prosecutors allege Ajamian, 27, was stripped naked and killed on November 3 in Karaj, a city west of Tehran, by a group of mourners who had been paying tribute to a slain protester.
Initially, on November 12, Mizan Online announced charges for 11 people over Ajamian’s killing, including a woman.
But on Wednesday, as the trial opened, it said 15 defendants in the case had been charged with “corruption on earth” — a sharia-related charge that is a capital crime in the Islamic republic.
“Three of the accused are aged 17” and their cases would be dealt with by a juvenile court, the website added.
An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of security force members, and thousands have been arrested, among them around 40 foreigners.
More than 2,000 people have been charged with offenses, according to the authorities.
At least six people have so far been sentenced to death, their fates now depending on the supreme court which rules on appeals.