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Showing posts from February 14, 2013

Iran rejects Saudi official's remarks on Iranian nuclear energy program

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has rejected the recent remarks by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.

“Under the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), the Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to all international obligations and there is no room for concern in this regard,” Mehmanparast said.

During a joint press conference with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in Riyadh on Tuesday, Faisal claimed that Iran had the intention to make a nuclear bomb in violation of the international laws on the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mehmanparast described the remarks by the Saudi official as surprising and “unfounded” and stressed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The United States, the Israeli regime and some of their allies have falsely accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran has vehemently rejected the allegation, arguing…

Iran installing new centrifuges at Natanz facility

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says new centrifuges have been installed at Natanz enrichment facility since one month ago.

Fereydoun Abbasi made the remark on Wednesday as inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tehran for a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“In order to reach industrial-scale [nuclear fuel] production, we have to install a large number of these devices (centrifuges). The installation of new centrifuges at Natanz site started nearly one month ago. We plan to double their number in order to complete a lab related to the new generation [of centrifuges],” Abbasi said.

“These centrifuges have been developed for enrichment below five percent and they cannot be used in 20-percent enrichment,” he added.

Abbasi also criticized IAEA inspectors for letting confidential information out after visiting Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“Three to four days after IAEA experts reported the installation of these …

S Korea deploys new cruise missile that can hit ‘any’ target in North

South Korea says it has deployed a new cruise missile which is capable of hitting targets in North Korea ‘anywhere, anytime’ in the wake of Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.

South Korean Major General Ryu Young-Jeo told reporters on Thursday, “With this missile, we could hit any facility, equipment or individual target in the North anywhere at any time of our choosing.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry also released video footage of the newly deployed missiles being fired from destroyers and submarines.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said the cruise missile “being unveiled today is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the window of the office of North Korea’s leadership.”

On February 12, North Korea announced that it had successfully carried out its third underground nuclear test, which involved “miniaturized” device and was conducted in a “perfect manner.”

The nuclear test drew immediate condemnations from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon along with several…

Inside the spy unit that NYPD says doesn't exist

NEW YORK (AP) -- From an office on the Brooklyn waterfront in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York Police Department officials and a veteran CIA officer built an intelligence-gathering program with an ambitious goal: to map the region's ethnic communities and dispatch teams of undercover officers to keep tabs on where Muslims shopped, ate and prayed.

The program was known as the Demographics Unit and, though the NYPD denies its existence, the squad maintained a long list of "ancestries of interest" and received daily reports on life in Muslim neighborhoods, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The documents offer a rare glimpse into an intelligence program shaped and steered by a CIA officer. It was an unusual partnership, one that occasionally blurred the line between domestic and foreign spying. The CIA is prohibited from gathering intelligence inside the U.S.

Undercover police officers, known as rakers, visited Islamic book…

5 bombers die, cop hurt in Pak attack

BANNU: Pakistani police say five suicide bombers attacked a police station in the country's northwest, wounding one police officer.

Nisar Tanoli says three of the bombers detonated their explosive vests while the police shot dead the other two attackers.

Tanoli says a police officer was wounded during Thursday's attack in Bannu city. Tanoli is the police chief in Bannu.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan has claimed responsibility for the attack.

He says it was in retaliation for the killings of eight militants whose bullet-riddled bodies were found abandoned in the neighbouring North Waziristan tribal area.

Pakistan asks Taliban to announce truce before talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's government on Wednesday urged the Taliban to announce a 30-day ceasefire as a precursor to peace talks which the militants offered earlier this month, adding the nation had rejected their campaign of terror.
The umbrella Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction has stepped up attacks in recent months, leading to fears that violence could mar general elections scheduled to take place by mid-May.

In a video message handed out to journalists on Feb. 3, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan proposed talks with Islamabad provided that certain opposition politicians, including main opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, act as guarantors.

Sharif welcomed the peace talks offer but refused to be a guarantor.

"First there should be ceasefire and peace talks can be held only after it," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad on Wednesday.

"The nation has rejected the system of Taliban, this is voice of majority, come forward, announce a one-month ceasefir…

Russia won't stop weapon sales to Syria and Mali

MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday it was delivering military hardware and light weapons to the governments of Syria and Mali as it expands sales and maintains its footing in some of the world's deadliest conflicts.

Anatoly Isaikin, the director of state arms trader Rosoboronexport, said that Russia sees no need to stop arms trade with Syria as it isn't prohibited by the United Nations.

He dismissed Western criticism of Russian arms sales to Assad's regime, saying that his company has only delivered defensive weapons.

"In the absence of sanctions, we are continuing to fulfill our contract obligations," Isaikin said at a news conference. "These aren't offensive weapons. We are mostly shipping air defence systems and repair equipment intended for various branches of the military."

He also rejected reports that Russia was planning to supply advanced MiG29-M fighters to Damascus while confirming it had a deal outstanding for Yak-130 light attack jets.

Isaikin …

Mali: Explosives Cache Raises Fears

French soldiers recovered a stash of explosives on Wednesday that the authorities believed radical Islamic fighters were using to make bombs, a Malian military spokesman said. The spokesman, Daouda Diarra, said that the French military removed about 1,700 pounds of explosive material from a house in Gao. The find raised fears that jihadists could be preparing to stage attacks on civilians.

Meanwhile, officials in the capital said the army captain behind a coup last year that paved the way for radical Islamic militants to take over the north will be given the task of reforming the military, which has been accused of human rights abuses in recent fighting. Radical Islamic fighters withdrew from Gao on Jan. 26 after imposing their harsh interpretation of Shariah law in the most populous city in northern Mali for nearly 10 months. But they have been behind two suicide bombings in the last week, though neither of those attacks killed other people.

N Korea's possible nuclear breakthrough

Many of Tuesday's events regarding North Korea can be filed under "we've been here before": the early indications of a seismic event; the revelation that North Korea had given prior warning overnight to the US and China; the steady stream of international condemnation; the triumphant statement from Pyongyang. But within that statement were a couple of lines that indicate North Korea might have made a significant breakthrough.

First was Pyongyang's assertion that the nuclear test was "carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturised and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously". In short that it had achieved a long-sought goal, making the bomb smaller, perhaps small enough to place on top of a missile.

Three things to note: it's something the US and its allies have been expecting to happen, eventually; North Korea doesn't yet have the missile capability to send a warhead into space and back to…

Russia signs exploration deal with Exxon

Wednesday's agreement confirms ExxonMobil's status as Russia's most important energy partner by far.

Exxon Mobil Corp and Russian partner Rosneft have signed an agreement that will give the US company exploration access to an additional 606,000 sq kilometres in the Russian Arctic.

A separate agreement will give Rosneft the opportunity to acquire a 25 percent interest in the Point Thompson unit on Alaska's North Slope.

The companies also said on Wednesday they will study a potential liquid natural gas project in the Russian Far East.

The agreements were announced Wednesday on the website of Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil. Rosneft President Igor Sechin and Exxon Mobil Exploration Co President Stephen Greenlee signed the agreements in Moscow in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The agreements will give Exxon exploration access to seven new blocks in the Chukchi Sea, Laptev Sea and Kara Sea.

"The agreements signed today bring the already unprecedented scal…

Israel admits it held Australian 'Prisoner X'

Officials confirm case as Canberra admits knowing about its citizen, a suspected Mossad agent who died in Israeli jail.

Israel has confirmed it jailed an Australian-Israeli citizen, known as "Prisoner X", in solitary confinement on security grounds who later died in custody.

The justice ministry broke its silence on Wednesday after Australia's ABC news network first revealed the identity of the 34-year-old man who had used three different names, including Ben Zygier, Ben Allen, and Ben Alon.

"For security reasons the man was held under a false identity although his family was immediately informed of his arrest," the ministry said.

The man was found dead in his cell and a judicial inquiry ruled he took his own life, the ministry added in a statement, although it did not reveal his identity or the charges against him.

"Following an extensive investigation it was ruled six weeks ago that it was suicide," said the ministry.

"The prisoner was held in jai…