(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)
Speaker Ali Larijani said Tehran would continue to enrich uranium and produce heavy water, regardless of restrictions on shipping abroad.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, warned that the recent host of US economic sanctions, a part of Washington strategy to counter Iranian malicious behavior, risks stoking internal tensions. Reformists in Rouhani’s administration and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei loyalists have been at odds on Iran’s response policy to pressure.
“Under the [nuclear accord] Iran can produce heavy water and this is not in violation of the agreement. Therefore, we will carry on with enrichment activity,” the semi official Iranian news agency, ISNA, quoted Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani as saying on May 4.
“We will enrich Uranium whether you move to buy it or not,” Larijani said.
On May 3, the US President Donald Trump’s administration slapped new restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities as it looks to force Tehran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant, intensifying a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power.
Despite increasing pressure on Iran, the United States on May 3 extended five sanction waivers that will allow Russian, China, and European countries to continue to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program at Bushehr. But it said it may punish any activity that expands the site.
At the same time, the State Department said it was ending two waivers related to Iranian exports of enriched uranium in what it called “the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime.” All of the waivers were due to expire on May 4.
The 45- to 90-day extensions were shorter than the 180 days granted previously but can be renewed.
It was the third punitive action taken against Iran in as many weeks. Last week, it said it would grant no more sanctions waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, accelerating its plan to push Iran’s oil exports to zero. The Trump administration also took the unprecedented step of designating Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
“The Trump administration continues to hold the Iranian regime accountable for activities that threaten the region’s stability and harm the Iranian people. This includes denying Iran any pathway to a nuclear weapon,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
The Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear accord a year ago and vowed “maximum pressure” aimed at curbing the regional role of Iran.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)
President Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his biggest political rivals but backed down when he was told he didn’t have the authority to do that, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Trump wanted the DOJ to investigate former FBI director James Comey and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to the report. But when the president floated the idea to then White House counsel Don McGahn in the spring, McGahn is said to have told Trump he couldn’t order the DOJ to conduct investigations.
McGahn reportedly added that Trump could request an investigation, but that the move would likely spark a public outcry and accusations that he was abusing his power.
After The Times’ story broke, CNN reported that Trump also broached the topic of investigating Clinton and Comey with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
One source told CNN that Whitaker came prepared to answer questions about what the DOJ was doing on matters related to Clinton, including the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal. The person reportedly added that while Whitaker was trying to capitulate to the president, he did not appear to cross any line.
Tuesday’s revelation is the latest in a series of documented efforts Trump has made to exert control over the nation’s top law-enforcement agency. The DOJ is meant to be independent of the White House, but Trump has previously shown that he believes it is a political tool to be wielded against his perceived enemies.
In addition to publicly pressuring the DOJ to prosecute his rivals, Trump once reportedly asked advisers why he couldn’t have “my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” do his bidding.
Trump has long harbored resentment toward both Comey and Clinton. When he ran against the former first lady in the 2016 election, Trump and his surrogates regularly led chants calling to “lock her up” in response to revelations that Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business when she was secretary of state.
He initially backed down after he won the presidency, but Trump soon resumed his calls for her prosecution when Clinton began criticizing him after the election, and as the FBI began investigating his campaign’s contacts with Russia.
Comey, meanwhile, moved into Trump’s crosshairs when he publicly confirmed the existence of the Russia investigation last March, shortly after Trump took office.
Subsequent reporting and congressional testimony revealed that after Trump learned of the investigation, he repeatedly pressured Comey to publicly state he was not personally under investigation, or to drop the probe entirely. When Comey refused, Trump fired him and later publicly stated he ousted the FBI director because of the Russia investigation.
Comey’s firing now makes up the basis of a separate inquiry, overseen by the special counsel Robert Mueller, into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in the Russia probe.
When Comey began publicly criticizing Trump after his removal, the president called for prosecutors to investigate Comey for leaking classified information to The Times when he had his friend share a memo with the paper that documented some of what Comey believed were his most troubling interactions with the president. The memo did not contain any classified information.
He has also called for Comey and other current and former FBI and DOJ officials to be investigated over their handling of the Clinton email probe during the election.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
(IF IRAN IS IN A BETTER POSITION RIGHT NOW IN REGARD TO URANIUM ENRICHMENT WHILE UNDER THE ‘NUCLEAR DEAL’ THEN IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN IN VIOLATION OF THAT DEAL FOR SOME TIME NOW)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS)
Iran ordered its scientists on Tuesday to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels in response to what it calls a U.S. violation of its landmark 2015 atomic deal with world powers.
Nuclear experts however said that President Hassan Rouhani’s move, if carried out, would probably require Iran to enrich uranium to a fissile purity above the maximum level set by the nuclear deal to allay fears of Tehran building an atomic bomb.
Rouhani’s announcement marked Tehran’s first concrete reaction to a decision by the U.S. Congress last month to extend some sanctions on Tehran that would also make it easier to reimpose others lifted under the nuclear pact.
Rouhani described the technology as a “nuclear propeller to be used in marine transportation,” but did not say whether that meant just ships or possibly also submarines. Iran said in 2012 that it was working on its first nuclear-powered sub. reut.rs/2gVr80g
Rouhani’s words will stoke tensions with Washington, already heightened by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to scrap the deal, under which Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Rouhani also ordered planning for production of fuel for nuclear-powered marine vessels “in line with the development of a peaceful nuclear program of Iran”.
But under the nuclear settlement Iran reached with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, it is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels.
“On the basis of international experience, were Iran to go ahead with such a (nuclear propulsion) project, it would have to increase its enrichment level,” said Mark Hibbs, nuclear expert and senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
CIVILIAN VERSUS MILITARY ENRICHMENT
“That’s the point, because Iran would be looking for a non-weapons rationale to provocatively increase its enrichment level in the case that the deal with the powers comes unstuck.”
He pointed out that countries with more advanced navies and nuclear programs have been working on propulsion reactors for decades. Such technology might need uranium enriched to around 20 percent purity.
A Russian Foreign Ministry source told RIA news agency that a careful reading of Rouhani’s order showed he was talking only about developing power-supply units for nuclear-powered marine vessels, but not higher-enriched uranium itself, so “strictly speaking” this would not contravene the nuclear deal.
But the source acknowledged that such vessels typically ran on higher-enriched uranium prohibited by the accord.
Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said developing a reactor suited for higher-grade nuclear vessel fuel would take at least a decade.
“(But) these are unfortunate developments. We are very concerned about the future of the (nuclear deal) under the Trump administration and any signs of erosion … must be taken very seriously and immediately addressed by the international community,” Lyman told Reuters.
Rouhani accused the United States in a letter published by state news agency IRNA of not fully meeting its commitments under the nuclear deal.
“With regard to recent (U.S. congressional) legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act … I order the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to … plan the design and construction of a nuclear propeller to be used in marine transportation.”
Members of the U.S. Congress have said the extension of the bill does not violate the nuclear deal that was struck last year to assuage Western fears that Iran was working to develop a nuclear bomb. The act, Congress added, only gave Washington the power to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it violated the pact.
Washington says it has lifted all the sanctions it needs to under the July 2015 deal between major powers and Iran.
Rouhani’s move followed recent remarks by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his hardline allies harshly criticizing the deal’s failure to yield any swift economic improvements in Iran. Khamenei said last month the U.S. Congress’s prolongation of some sanctions was a clear breach and the Islamic Republic would “definitely react to it”.
There was no immediate comment from the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iran’s nuclear program.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning in Moscow and Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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