While on vacation, both Obama and Putin enjoy a bike ride.
The day has finally come that the Iranian Bushehr nuclear reactor will go online, all with the aid from Russia and the fuel they will supply.
The long awaited time for Iran has been seemingly delayed for years as the plant had become a source of political tug-o-war. Russian led and financed, the project is now completed with a set start date for Aug. 21.
Plant construction began in 1974 with help from Germany, but was put on hold due the the Islamic revolution in 1979. After years passed, construction picked back up in 1995 with co-operation from Russia which, in 1998 led them to sign up to complete the facility.
With many delays, following a scheduled completion of 2007, time has come that Russia will load the reactor with fuel that will make it operational.
“This will be an irreversible step,” Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said. “At that moment, the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be certified as a nuclear energy installation.”
“I think it is a very strong signal that international society supports such peaceful projects as Bushehr, because everybody understands that you cannot use a power plant in a hypothetical military program,” Novikov told RT. “A nuclear power plant just generates electricity. There are two double-purpose elements – enrichment and spent fuel management. Both of these elements are taken out of Iranian responsibility, because we are going to supply the Bushehr power plant with nuclear fuel.”
One day before debate in the United Nations Security Council talk about posing tighter sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program, and Russia is resorting to their old political tactics.
Leaders from Iran, Turkey and Russia met and had dialogue over international cooperation that caused frustrated the United States, who would rather impose very strict and tight sanctions versus the Russian idea that the sanctions should not be ‘excessive.’
“We’ve seen a lot of support from the international arena,” he said, according to the Turkey’s official Anatolian News Agency. “This is the voice of everyone’s heart.” Mr. Ahmadinejad also maintained a defiant posture toward the United States.
“If the U.S. and its allies think they could hold the stick of sanctions and then sit and negotiate with us, they are seriously mistaken,” he told a news conference, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV satellite broadcaster. European and American officials say the vote on sanctions could come as early as Wednesday.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran would not repeat its recent offer to send part of its stockpile out of Iran for enrichment. The accord, supported by Brazil and Turkey, was designed to break the deadlock over its nuclear program, according to Iran.
While Ahmadinejad is correct in that he is receiving international support, it is mainly from one source: Russia and her puppets. Russia is very supportive of Iran, and they should be because they are a huge financial supporter for Iran and they are a source of intelligence for the technology needed as well.
“The Tehran declaration provided an opportunity for the United States government and its allies. We had hoped and we are still hopeful that they use the opportunity well,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “I must say opportunities like this will not be repeated again.”
He added: “We were thinking that the United States President Barack Obama would make certain changes in the United States policies. We don’t say that we are hopeless. We hope that he can actually get over the present conditions in the time that remains. We are ready for dialogue within the frame of justice and respect.”
The United States contends Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran argues its nuclear program is peaceful.
Mr. Putin, speaking at the conference, said sanctions should not be “excessive” but gave no details on whether Russia would change its mind on the vote. He called Iran’s nuclear program peaceful, a characterization with which Washington disagrees.
“I hold the opinion that this resolution should not be unnecessary, should not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty,” Mr. Putin said.
But hasn’t Turkey been a long-time ally with the United States? Yes, but they have also been at the disposal of regional hyper-power Russia. And, while Russia has been resorting to its old ways of business, they have been helping give Turkey a voice of their own.
Turkey is seen increasingly in Washington as “running around the region doing things that are at cross-purposes to what the big powers in the region want,” said Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations. The question being asked, he said, is “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?”
From Turkey’s perspective, however, it is simply finding its footing in its own backyard, a troubled region that has been in turmoil for years, in part as a result of American policy making. Turkey has also been frustrated in its longstanding desire to join the European Union.
“The Americans, no matter what they say, cannot get used to a new world where regional powers want to have a say in regional and global politics,” said Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Bilgi University in Istanbul. “This is our neighborhood, and we don’t want trouble. The Americans create havoc, and we are left holding the bag.”
Turkey’s rise as a regional power may seem sudden, but it has been evolving for years, since the end of the cold war, when the world was a simple alignment of black and white and Turkey, a Muslim democracy founded in 1923, was a junior partner in the American camp.
Twenty years later, the map has been redrawn. Turkey is now a vibrant, competitive democracy with an economy that would rank as the sixth largest in Europe. Unlike Jordan and Egypt, which rely heavily on American aid, it is financially independent of the United States. And, paradoxically, its democracy has created some problems with Washington: Members of Mr. Erdogan’s own party defected in 2003, for example, voting not to allow the Americans to attack Iraq from Turkish territory.
The one thing to remember is that while regional power maps are being redrawn, Russia is holding the pen and orchestrating everything.
Recapping the days events of Obama’s nuclear summit.
Good afternoon, everybody. We have just concluded an enormously productive day. I said this morning that today would be an opportunity for our nations, both individually and collectively, to make concrete commitments and take tangible steps to secure nuclear materials so they never fall into the hands of terrorists who would surely use them.
This evening, I can report that we have seized this opportunity, and because of the steps we’ve taken — as individual nations and as an international community — the American people will be safer and the world will be more secure.
I want to thank all who participated in this historic summit — 49 leaders from every region of the world. Today’s progress was possible because these leaders came not simply to talk, but to take action; not simply to make vague pledges of future action, but to commit to meaningful steps that they are prepared to implement right now.
I also want to thank my colleagues for the candor and cooperative spirit that they brought to the discussions. This was not a day of long speeches or lectures on what other nations must do. We listened to each other, with mutual respect. We recognized that while different countries face different challenges, we have a mutual interest in securing these dangerous materials.
So today is a testament to what is possible when nations come together in a spirit of partnership to embrace our shared responsibility and confront a shared challenge. This is how we will solve problems and advance the security of our people in the 21st century. And this is reflected in the communiqué that we have unanimously agreed to today.
Read entire remarks HERE.
The U.S. National Statement (PDF)
The summit communiqué (PDF)
The work plan (PDF)
A fact sheet about the summit (PDF)
PDF’s courtesy of ForeignPolicy.com
“No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” – Gen. Patton
When you take a look at the threat level from rogue nations – N. Korea and Iran – it is alarming that the current administration would even humor the idea of backing down on its nuclear presence. However, the same energy that carried health care reform will, and has already begun to see the ill effects of current talks with nations like Russia.
As Iran prepares for an upcoming conference on nuclear disarmament, N. Korea is openly committed to furthering their nuclear status. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that they have “between one and six nuclear weapons.” In the same speech, Clinton says that “We will not unilaterally disarm. We will maintain our nuclear deterrent.” A mixed signal within the administration as Obama seems hard pressed to formulate a new nuclear weapons policy that would, in some eyes, disarm America. It is no secret that the current stockpile of nuclear weapons in America is old and technologically outdated.
”The United States is trying to say, ‘Look, let’s keep the bargain where all of the rest of the world agrees not to get nuclear weapons and to work with us to keep nuclear weapons from terrorists and other states, because we are keeping our side of the bargain. We are doing everything we can to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and reduce the number of nuclear weapons.’”
That may be what is said, but what is being heard is another story. What it says to countries like Iran and N. Korea is that we don’t want you to have nukes, and while we will still maintain our outdated weapons at a lesser level, you in turn will agree that you will not further your acquiescence of nuclear weapons. While it is easy to make accusations with a statement like that, it is in some ways beginning to take shape in that manner.
Our side of the bargainis demonstrated with the nuclear talks with Russia, in the hopes that they would take the side of the U.S. in sanctions against Iran. However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sees things differently. Although he agreed that nations should not “turn a blind eye” to Iran’s nuclear defiance, he indicated that Russia would not support sanctions that would punish Iran’s people or encourage regime change. He told reporters in Prague, where he and Obama signed an arms control agreement on nuclear weapons, that: “Let me put it straightforward. I have outlined our limits for such sanctions.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s outright defiance toward sanctions, has created what some are calling diplomatic foot-dragging, while he continues to take a strong stance on the direction and purpose as to Iran’s nuclear efforts. But, only time will tell after Tehran holds it’s international conference of nuclear disarmament on April 17th and 18th, where it is said that Iran “does not consider legitimate the possession of nuclear weapons and other [forms of] weapons of mass destruction by any country,” and adding that Tehran believed in a world free of such weapons.
With noise like that coming out of Tehran, it is hard to understand their stance when they make statements that, “If America makes a crazy move, its interests will be endangered by Iran’s allies around the globe.”
A bomb blast, equivelant to 15 pounds of TNT, caused a Russian express train to derail killing at least 26 people as it was travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. As the search goes on, more deaths are expected.
RIA Novosti – Bomb caused fatal train crash – Russia’s security chief
“Preliminary information indicates that improvised device equivalent to 7 kg of TNT exploded,” Alexander Bortnikov said. Prosecutors have opened a criminal case on charges of terrorism.
The train, which can travel at 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph), was carrying some 650 passengers and 29 railroad employees.
“An unidentified explosive activated by unknown people went off,” Vladimir Yakunin, president of railroad monopoly Russian Railways (RZD), said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to take all necessary measures to extend assistance to those affected.
The head of the Russian Federal Security Service told the country’s news agency Interfax that traces of explosives were found at the train crash site, including chemical residue from a homemade bomb.
“We have the blast remains: a crater. There is little doubt this is terrorism,” a source in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s office told Fox News. Who was responsible for the derailment or why it occurred “remains unclear,” the source said.
Tensions, to say the least, have escalated recently as U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton tells Iran that there will be no changes to the offer placed before them about their nuclear program. This is the same proposal that was introduced as they agreed to in principle at earlier talks.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there will be no changes to an international offer to end the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program by having its low-grade uranium processed and enriched abroad. That proposal is still being considered by the government in Tehran.
Secretary of State Clinton says it is time for Iran to accept the U.N-backed nuclear fuel deal. “This is a pivotal moment for Iran. Acceptance fully of this proposal which we have put forth and which we are unified behind would be a good indication that Iran does not wish to be isolated and does wish to cooperate with the international community and fulfill their international responsibilities,” she said.
While the International Atomic Energy Agency remains in contact with Iran to answer its questions about the agreement, Clinton says the United States, Russia, France, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the European Union will not accept any modifications to its terms.
“We urge Iran to accept the agreement as proposed. Because we are not altering it. It is the proposal that they agreed to in principal, so that we can move forward and work with Iran on a full range of issues including, but not limited to, their nuclear program,” she said.
Iran rejected a U.N. backed plan Saturday in what seems to be a lack of trust among nations. Iran has repeatedly said they want to keep their uranium, but be allowed to buy a more premium level of uranium. They have also repeatedly stated their purposes for their nuclear ambitions, however it is speculated that they want it for the sole purpose to arm and protect their country with nuclear weapons. The trust factor plays a big part in these new deals.
The U.N.-brokered plan requires Iran to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — to Russia in one batch by the end of the year, easing concerns the material would be used for a bomb.
After further enrichment in Russia, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Iran for use in a reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.
Iran has indicated that it may agree to send only “part” of its stockpile in several shipments. Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium to the higher level needed to power the research reactor itself domestically.
The Tehran reactor needs uranium enriched to about 20 percent, higher than the 3.5 percent-enriched uranium Iran is producing for a nuclear power plant it plans to build in southwestern Iran. Enriching uranium to even higher levels can produce weapons-grade materials.
“We are totally opposed to the proposal to send 3.5 percent enriched uranium in return for 20 percent enriched fuel,” senior lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying.
Boroujerdi, who heads the parliament’s National Security Committee, said the priority for Iran was to buy nuclear fuel and hold on to its own uranium. He also said there was no guarantee that Russia or France will keep to the deal and supply nuclear fuel to Iran if Tehran ships them its enriched uranium.
“The preferred option is to buy fuel … there is no guarantee that they will give us fuel … in return for enriched uranium. We can’t trust the West,” ISNA quoted Boroujerdi as saying.
Kazem Jalali, another senior lawmaker, said Iran wants nuclear fuel first before agreeing to ship its enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France even if it decides to strike a deal.
“They need to deliver nuclear fuel to Iran first … the West is not trustworthy,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
In what President Obama refers to as “his war,” he is definitely taking his time deciding what direction to take the war in Afghanistan. Soon, he will be faced with making a decision that could either be victorious or one of defeat. Either way, one not to be taken lightly.
Someone else not taking the decision lightly is General McChrystal. Hand-picked by Obama, he was asked to deliver an assessment on the situation/progress in Afghanistan. His 66 page assessment was subsequently leaked to the media, and became somewhat of a source of controversy.
The most heat to date would be that didn’t go through the proper chain of command. There are proper measures that are to be taken in military structure. It doesn’t change depending on the amount of stripes you have, or how many stars you have. There is a chain of command that must be followed. However, this argument does nothing on the surface but stall the debate going on behind closed doors.
The debate is whether or not to follow the commanding general on the ground who sees first-hand what is happening, or go with a group of selected Republicans and Democrats who have put their heads together who think they have derived the greatest plan ever. Ask 100 different people on what they would do, and you would likely get 100 different answers. Everything from, “Pave the country” to “Nuke the damn place and show Iran that we mean business” to “Continue this hunt and peck operative that hasn’t proven anything yet.”
More consideration should be shown to Gen. McChrystal and what he proposes. But, Obama doesn’t want to look like the failure. He would rather have McChrystal take the fall. If McChrystal was smart, which he is, he would resign immediately if his demands are not met. Another reason for resignation would be that it would demonstrate Obama’s distrust in anyone, even the person he appointed to be in command.
So, certainly this is a very difficult situation for many. Even the enemy. Either choice would be a victory in their eyes. If troops are decreased, then they will view it as victorious as they did with Russia. If troops are increased, then another victory in that U.S. troops will be stretched so thin they would have a hard time being victorious in any other region if conflict were to escalate. If heavy bombing missions were to take place, then they would see it as a victory because Americans would be killing innocent men, women and children.
Time should be spent dissecting any and every option by the President. However, he should not be out gallivanting around begging for the 2016 Games to be held in Chicago. This, along with other issues plaguing the American people, should be top priority.
Tensions are rising in and around Iran over their recent missile test-fires, both long and short-range. Also, there is new concern regarding the new discovery of a secret uranium enrichment plant.
The tests come as the Islamic Republic started large-scale missile drills on Sunday.
Many see this as a test for United States President Barack Obama as he has recently announced that he would not further the Bush-era missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Others see this as a test for Russia to extend their strong arm in the region and put the pressure on Iran.
Certainly the pressure will be felt as Russia is calling for “restraint.”
“This is not illegal under any international agreements, but of course when missile launches are accompanied by an unresolved situation around Iran’s nuclear program, this concerns us,” Sergei Lavrov said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.
While there is great concern internationally, there is a good deal of concern from Russia as they call for more sanctions. Mikhail Margelov, head of Russia’s upper house’s international affairs committee, said although Moscow does not believe in the effectiveness of sanctions, “in some situations, sanctions become inevitable.” He also stressed the importance of the “signal that they will send to the Iranian leadership.”
In an address to professors and students at the University of Pennsylvania, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said:
“Sanctions are not the best way to deal successfully with Iran, but if we run out of all other options, we could launch sanctions based on international law.”
Iran is already under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its failure to stop uranium enrichment. Enrichment seen globally as a means of weapons production.