Geneva talks about Iran's nuclear program end without agreement but on an up-note, will resume 20 November

Talks on Iran’s nuclear program that technically entered a fourth day in Geneva ended just after midnight on Sunday morning,  on an up-note.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told exhausted journalists that in fact the talks had been very productive and positive.  “We do have our differences”, Zarif said, “but that’s why we’re here…because of our differences”.  But, Zarif indicated, he thought there could be agreement on a resolution at the next meeting, now set for 20 November [also in Geneva].

“What we were looking for was political will and determination, in order to end this phase and move to an end game’, Zarif said at the press conference. “I think we are all on the same wavelength”.

Analysts have said that the failure to agree on a deal tonight, however, will open the way for a campaign with renewed strength by its opponents, including inside Iran, inside the US, and also in Israel — where Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has vowed to go it alone against the perceived Iranian threat — and even to do “whatever is necessary” to defend the security of the state of Israel.

Iran has been subject to an increasingly tough sanctions regime imposed by the UN Security Council since 2006, and also bilaterally by the US + the EU for refusing to stop its uranium enrichment.   When Iran did not stop its enrichment, the U.S, pushed for several sets of increasingly restrictive and punitive sanctions.  They have  had a biting sting, but Iran has only increased it’s efforts. One of Iran’s main arguments against the sanctions is not about the suffering they’ve caused, but is rather to say that they haven’t worked — and that Iran has despite — and to spite — the sanctions, their scientists and technicians have been able to increase their enriched-uranium production capacity from a couple of hundred enrichment centrifuges, to something like 14,000 now.

Iranian elections earlier this year saw confrontational and “defiant” President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who’d served the maximum two terms, replaced with “reformist” Hassan Rouhani. [Rouhani is a former nuclear negotiator who had previously tried, but failed — due to the opposition of the US under George W. Bush — to reach a deal with major powers that disapproved of Iran’s Islamic revolutionary tendencies].

The election and inauguration of Rouhani raised hopes of a possibility of accomodation — even as Israel raised heightened alarms about the advance in Iran’s nuclear prowess which Israel Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu argues mean inevitable weaponization, and a severe threat to Israel.

Netanyahu’s warnings have become increasingly strident in recent weeks, as the negotiations with Iran appeared to move forward. Netanyahu is opposed to any deal other than the complete dismantling of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and shutting down some of its nuclears installations [which, yes, does conform with what UN Security Council has demanded].

Haaretz wrote in an editorial that “Netanyahu continues to view the very diplomatic move itself as an existential threat, because it will leave Iran with a nuclear capability that could be transformed within a short period into bomb-making capability. ‘Israel is not obliged by this agreement’, Netanyahu said, nudging Israel toward the status of a country that is threatening the international consensus…Netanyahu can disagree with the American conception of how to best thwart Iran’s aspirations, but boasting of Israel’s ability to thumb its nose at the international diplomatic process is a dangerous threat in itself”.  This is published here.

There was apparently a very difficult meeting between Netanyahu and Secretary of State Kerry at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday, just before Kerry headed off to attend the talks in Geneva.  A joint press conference was cancelled, and Netanyahu came before the cameras to say dramatically and vehemently that the deal being considered in the Geneva talks was “a Very.Bad.Deal.”

Continue reading Geneva talks about Iran's nuclear program end without agreement but on an up-note, will resume 20 November

Six-nation talks with Iran about its nuclear program have begun in Istanbul

Six-nations talks with Iran about its nuclear program have started in Istanbul.

The last such talks, also held in Istanbul, ended without progress in January 2011.

    UPDATE: After two sessions, it was agreed that further talks will be held on May 23 — in Baghdad. [For those of us with memories of the Iran-Iraq war, this is very wierd.]

Now, these talks are being held under the threat of a possible Israeli military attack to stop Iran before it develops nuclear weapons. Israeli officials have recently suggested, however, that a strike may not be needed before 2013.

The six nations facing Iran are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council [the U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain, who are the only countries in the world with the veto power to stop any resolution at the UN Security Council, and who also just so happen to be the world’s only officially recognized and “legitimate” nuclear powers, according to the NPT Treaty] — plus Germany. For this reason, the talks are often called “P5+1” talks with Iran.

The EU’s Catherine Ashton [white jacket] talking with Turkey’s FM Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul on Saturday morning as talks with Iran about its nuclear program got underway

EU Photo of High Rep Catherine Ashton talking with Turkey's FM Ahmed Davutoglu as the talks began in Istanbul on Saturday morning 13 April 2012

Germany is included because of the great interest it showed for this process in the early 2000s, when one of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiators, Hossein Mousavian, was also Ambassador to Berlin.

European officials prefer to refer to these “P5+1” talks instead as “E3+3” talks — meaning three European powers [Germany, France, and Britain] plus three others [U.S., Russia, China].

U.S. President Obama has also made Israeli officials happy recently by saying that he will not tolerate Iranian nuclear weaponization.

Over two years ago, Israeli analysts at the Tel Aviv-based INSS [Institute for National Security Studies] said that Iran would not pose an “existential threat” to Israel when it was on the threshold of being able to put a nuclear weapon together — as it apparently is now. Nor would Iran not be an “existential threat” when it had one nuclear weapon, or when it tested a nuclear weapon. Iran would need 4 to 8 nuclear weapons assembled and ready-to-use, the experts said, to be an “existential threat” — because it would need a second-strike capability. That means, if Iran fires first, and Israel retaliates, Iran would need to be able to hit back. Nuclear-weapon-armed submarines, capable of sailing far from their home bases, are one of the factors that show a second-strike capability”.

Iranian officials have said they have no intention of making or ever using nuclear weapons — which one senior cleric has called “satanic”.

The Iranian delegation that arrived in Istanbul yesterday said they hoped both sides would be prepared to present “new intitiatives”.

A U.S. Defense Official testified to the International Court of Justice in the mid-1990s, in a case brought against nuclear weapons, that contrary to the argument that nuclear weapons are too dangerous to use, America in fact uses its nuclear weapons every day, on a daily basis — as a deterrent to attack.

Though Iran has argued that it is developing its nuclear energy and medical capacity out of national necessity as well as its national, sovereign right to do so. However, having the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon, if it wanted, elevates Iran to the status of major regional power — and it also acts as a powerful deterrent to attacks.

Robert Nariman wrote in Huffington Post, here, that “There are four reasons for Iran to have a nuclear program, srtated and not-so-stated: [1] energy, [2] medical isotopes, [3] national prestige, and [4] deterring a U.S. or Israeli attack … In particular, a perverse benefit of all the warmongering against Iran is that every time U.S. officials counter the warmongering by saying that a military strike against Iran would be counterproductive because it would drive the Iranians towards nuclear weaponization, it underscores the fact that Iran derives important national security benefits from enrichment without ever needing to crack a textbook on weaponization, nor enrich to 20 percent, nor build a deeper tunnel. If I’m an official in Iran’s enrichment program, every time a U.S. official says that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program would be counterproductive to U.S. interests, I get a little bit more convinced that I’m never going to need to try to build a nuclear weapon to protect my country from military attack”.

However, expectations are said to be low all around. Sanctions against Iran, imposed bilaterally in addition to three rounds agreed by the UN Security Council, will not be lifted anytime soon — unless Iran completely stops its uranium enrichment, which Iran has said it is unwilling to do.

The stated aim of the six-nations, as determined by leaks from American and European officals to major American media last weekend, might possibly be some temporary suspension of Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment program that produces nuclear fuel rods of the degree needed to run the Tehran Research Reactor in order to produce domestic medical isotopes for medical treatment including against cancer. Iran succeeded in successfully managing this 20%-enrichment technology in 2010. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Program has suggested that this production could be suspended — but only once Iran’s “needs” are met.

But, Iranian officials have made it clear, for years, that they could nave no faith in international promises to supply enriched uranium for its nuclear reactors, in light of the 30-year history of freezing of assets, confiscation of aircraft and civilian aircraft parts, and other sanctions that have been imposed non-stop ever since Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

Continue reading Six-nation talks with Iran about its nuclear program have begun in Istanbul

Israeli military officials signal they are fully briefed on upcoming talks with Iran about its nuclear program

In advance of important talks with Iran about its nuclear program on 13 [or 14?] April [apparently in Istanbul, after all] Israeli Maj-Gen (res) Amos Gilad said in a briefing in Jerusalem this week that Iran, today, has ability to put together a nuclear weapon [but probably won’t].

Iran does “have the know-how to assemble a nuclear warhead, if they want to do it … it depends on their decision”, he said.

Gilad spoke on Tuesday 2 April to diplomats, military attaches, ranking UNTSO “blue beret” military observers, and journalists at a briefing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs [JCPA].

He suggested in his talk that he is enjoying some sort of retirement [at least, from direct responsibility for intelligence, he implied] — but he is still described as the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs.

“I agree there’s no existential threat to Israel [now], but if Iran develops nuclear weapons, that could change. It [the threat to Israel from Iran] becomes serious”, Gilad said.

About Iran’s leadership, Gilad said, “We need to be humble. They are not stupid… Consider your enemy as more intelligent than you. If Israel tells them something, they will ignore it — unless they come to the same conclusion themselves. And [Iran knows] there is a consensus now”.

He said, “the moment they feel immune, they will [might] cross the Rubicon”. But, he noted, even if they do the opposite, and pull back from the brink, “they will keep the capability”.

Gilad spoke on Tuesday.

By Friday [allowing time for translations, reaction, and reportage], there appeared to be confirmation of this from Iran itself.

The Associated Press published a headline-making story, datelined Tehran, picked up by media from around the world, reporting that prominent Iranian parliamentarian Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam “said Iran can easily produce the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs but it is not Tehran’s policy to go that route”. According to AP, Moghadam told that “There is a possibility for Iran to easily achieve more than 90 (percent) enrichment”. One place this report was published was here.

But, the Iranian politician said more than that. He said that Iran can also actually produce a nuclear weapon — and that takes more than just highly-enriched uranium: “‘Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce (a) nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path’, Moghadam told the parliament’s news website,, late Friday”.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius [@IgnatiusPost on Twitter] reported that Obama sent message to Iran via Turkey last week [but “delicate issue” of enrichment not clear]. Ignatius’ WPost story [see below] is posted here.

Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] said Iran has 5,5 tons of Lightly Enriched Uranium and is “dealing with” 20% enrichment [warheads need higher, over 90% enrichment].

Iran’s stock of Lightly Enriched Uranium at 3-4% is the degree used to run civilian nuclear power plants, as Iran says it’s preparing to do.

It seems that this Iranian claim now being accepted … or, at least, it is not considered as alarming as it previously was, in recent years.

But 20% enrichment of uranium [Iran has experimented with at least two different technologies to arrive at this level] is another matter. Iran has explained that its 20% enriched uranium is for medical usage [in a research reactor that will produce medical isotopes to treat cancer, etc.]

Amos Gilad [IDF Maj-Gen res] furrowed his brow and shook his head, when he spoke about Iran’s uranium enrichment program…

Apparently, 20% enrichment is too much — perhaps because once there’s capability to enrich uranium to 20% level, it becomes possible to do more or less the same to arrive at military grade +90%.

Continue reading Israeli military officials signal they are fully briefed on upcoming talks with Iran about its nuclear program

Iran's Supreme Leader insists: no nuclear weapons

Well, can it get clearer than this?

Buried in an AP story that was headlined as a criticism of U.S. military moves, the reporter, Ali Akbar Dareini, reported that Iranos Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [Khamene’i] “insisted his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, saying Islam forbids weapons of mass destruction. ‘Because of this reason, we don’t have any belief in the atomic bomb and don’t pursue it’, he said … Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters and is the commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces, said accusations by President Barack Obama and other American officials about Iran’s nuclear ambitions were made out of anger. ‘Repeating absurd words about the building of nuclear weapon in Iran shows that the enemies are resorting to repeating the propaganda out of ultimate failure’, Khamenei said”. This AP article can be read in full here.

The main thrust of the AP story was a report that “From the deck of Iran’s new guided-missile destroyer … [Jamaran] … the country’s first domestically built destroyer … launched at a Gulf port Friday … Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the U.S. military presence in the Gulf: Khamenei, wearing clerical robes and a turban and walking with a cane as he inspected the ship, said the presence of foreign forces in the Persian Gulf ‘disturbs security’ in the region but [and] Washington will fail to achieve its goals”.

Some background to new sanctions push – Nick Burns on Iran

This is worth a read.

Remarks at Foreign Press Association in London
R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
London, England
February 11, 2008

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Thank you very much. The question was about Iran.  Let me just say, first of all, I agree with everything that Secretary Rice said here in London last week. I know you’re surprised to hear me say that. (Laughter) She’s my boss, so I agree with her.

Secondly, I thought there were two developments last week in Iran that were particularly interesting, noteworthy and troubling. The first was the attempt to launch a rocket . You all saw the photographs of President Ahmedinejad with his 3-D glasses. The FT had a cover-story on that. The second were the very interesting — and I would say troubling — press reports that appeared in the U.S. press on Friday – there was a New York Times story, I believe, there was an AP story – about a new centrifuge device, centrifuge mechanism that the Iranian government may or may not be employing at their plant in Natanz. Now, on the second story, we – the U.S. Government – have not corroborated that. These are press stories. But I think that both are troubling because the international community has sent a rather clear message to the Iranians
over the last three years.

The IAEA Board of Governors has twice passed resolutions calling on Iran to suspend all of its enrichment and reprocessing activities at Natanz. The Security Council has passed one resolution, in July of 2006, and since then two sanctions resolutions, Chapter 7, asking Iran to suspend its nuclear efforts at Natanz.

Iran seems to be willfully disregarding the Security Council, as well as the IAEA. It is now moving ahead, by its own admission, in broad daylight, to expand the number of centrifuges under operation at Natanz, and is not suspending in any way, shape or form.  This tells us that a third sanctions resolution must now be passed by the Security Council.   That resolution, presented by the European Union countries, is being debated in New York.  I suspect we’ll have to debate it for a little bit of time in New York, but it is now imperative that it be passed, because Iran is so willfully out of compliance, and these are troubling developments.

I would then think that there would be a process, after the Security Council votes the sanctions resolution, of other countries stepping forward to sanction as well. We hope very much that the European Union, following the passage of a third sanctions resolution in New York, would adopt its own sanctions resolution, which would be obviously much tougher than what the Security Council will do.  And we hope that other major trading partners of Iran, in Asia as well as the Middle East, will think about what they can do to contribute to this international sanctions effort. There has to be an international response to what the Iranian government is doing.

So, on the nuclear issue, I believe that that’s where the focus of the diplomacy is going to be – to strengthen the sanctions effort, both the overt sanctions, but also some of the efforts made through private financial institutions to dry up lending and investment activities in Iran. We’ve seen quite a bit of that over the last year.

There’s another issue concerning Iran. That is its outright support in arming and funding most of the Middle East terrorist groups, from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to the aleban in Afghanistan, to the Shia militant groups in Iraq. And there,  think, there’s been universal, international condemnation of this Iranian policy to support the violent groups in the Middle East, in a region that clearly needs greater stability and greater peace.

I was interested to read The Economist, I’m a great admirer of The Economist, I think it’s one of the most intelligent news magazines, if not the most important news magazine in the world.  But I disagreed with its cover story last week, when it essentially said that Iran has gotten the better of the international community diplomatically. I think that’s the conventional wisdom. That’s certainly the conventional wisdom in the press. But it’s hard to find a country in the world that’s more isolated than Iran right now. The only countries that are really sticking up for Iran: I think Syria does, I know that Cuba does, I know that Chavez and Venezuela does. But when you have an international reaction on the nuclear issue where China and Russia are the lead countries sanctioning Iran, with Britain, France, Germany, the United States; where all of the non-aligned partners of Iran are now sanctioning it: India, Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia, Egypt, just to name a few countries, are all, of course, fulfilling the UN sanctions regime, due to resolution 1737 and 47. So I think Iran is a country that is perilously in isolation from the rest of the world.

And these revelations last week – the rocket launch and the stories about the centrifuge — mean that the International Atomic Energy Agency needs to conduct a very vigorous and comprehensive review of what the Iranians have been up to. I know Doctor El-Baredei’s going to present a Report at some point in the month of February, and we’re looking forward To that report, we have great respect for him. But it really is ncumbent upon the IAEA to leave no stone unturned and to look at all These allegations and to make sure there’s a bright spotlight being shone upon the Iranian government.

AMBASSADOR BURNS: I would just say in response to your question that I don’t think anyone is gleeful about the IAEA reports.  I don’t think anybody inside the IAEA is. The fact is that the IAEA is looking into some very serious questions. What is the extent of Iran’s past research and development into nuclear technology, into enrichment, P1, P2?  What is the status of the Arak heavy water reactor? If you go Google the IAEA reports when you return to your office, and you read them, what really is striking about them is the number of times in the past reports that the IAEA has to say ‘Iran didn’t answer that question; Iran didn’t provide any information on that question’.  So this is not just an American concern that Iran is not being straightforward.  Physicists will tell you, and some leading European politicians will say, ‘Isn’t it curious that — in a country that has exactly one nearly functioning nuclear reactor, and that’s Bushehr, where Russia will ship in the fuel and take out the spent fuel — isn’t it curious that they should spend all this time and effort and flagrantly violate the UN resolutions to learn how to enrich and reprocess uranium?” One of the largest oil and gas producers in the world, not a single functioning indigenous nuclear reactor and they’re spending all this time and money and suffering these international sanctions and isolation to enrich and reprocess uranium.   Doesn’t that lead you to believe that there’s something else happening here? That Iran is not actually telling the truth about its nuclear research? So that’s how I’d answer your very good question.

And the second way I’d answer your question would be to say — because you asked the question, it deserves a good answer and a full answer — is that the UN Security Council resolutions and the IAEA Board of Governors resolutions were not focused on the issue of weapons.  Go back and look at them. They’re all focused on the issue of what Iran is doing in broad daylight — enrichment and reprocessing.  IAEA and Security Council. What I’ve found as the American negotiator is that within two days of publication of the unclassified National Intelligence Estimate – the unclassified document that we released – within two days, all the Permanent Five members of the UN Security Council had reconfirmed their interest in sanctions and a third sanctions resolution. And now you have Russia and China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States, all saying we need to sanction Iran because it’s wilfully ignoring what the Security Council has been saying. I think that’s a powerful argument.

Released on February 11, 2008

Iran has 3000 centrifuges working

On the 7th of November, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran has achieved a landmark with 3,000 centrifuges fully working, at its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

The Iranian President made his remarks a day after widespread news coverage of a new American National Intelligence Estimate which states that Iran gave up its ambitions to have a nuclear weapons program in 2003, under unspecified pressure.

The AP reported that “Wednesday’s claim was his first official statement that the plant is now fully operating the 3,000 centrifuges. ‘We have now reached 3,000 machines’, Ahmadinejad told thousands of Iranians in Birjand in eastern Iran, in a show of defiance of international demands to halt the program believed to be masking the country’s nuclear arms efforts. Centrifuges are used in enriching uranium, a process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead”. The AP report is available here.

The very informative and useful pro-disarmament NGO, Reaching Critical Will, has provided a wrap-up in its final report for 2007 on the UN General Assembly’s First (Disarmament ) Committee, reporting that “During the 62nd session of the First Committee, the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme was largely limited to the General and Thematic Debates, where the discussion revealed a high degree of divergence, contrary to exhortations of unity of the international community on the issue. This was readily apparent in the approach of the P5 on the issue, despite the 28 September P5+2 statement, in which the major powers agreed to seek a third sanctions resolution in the UN Security Council unless reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the EU High Representative show progress in November. The United States again adopted the hardest line against Iran and called outright for the Security Council to adopt a third sanctions resolution. Although the EU called upon Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, it expressed hope that the 21 August work plan [available online here ] would resolve outstanding issues, and made no reference to an additional Security Council resolution. The Russian and Chinese delegations both emphasized diplomatic and political solutions to addressing the Iran nuclear situation, without reference to the imposition of additional sanctions or even the 28 September P5+2 statement, indicating their lukewarm support for continued escalation of the situation … First Committee also heard both the Iranian and Israeli viewpoints on this issue in their general remarks. Reiterating familiar rhetorical points, Iranian Ambassador Khazaee defended Iran’s nuclear programme as peaceful, touted the 21 August work plan, and denounced Security Council resolutions adopted on the nuclear issue. Israeli Ambassador Ziv, delivering general remarks from the viewpoint of her country’s unique perspective on matters of global security, urged states to regard Iran ‘as a threat well beyond the geographical limits of the Middle East’ and also as ‘a threat not just to the regional stability but also to the global strategic situation’. Ambassador Ziv’s statements were in part based on the argument that weapons of mass destruction are dangerous only ‘in the hands of reckless and irresponsible actors’, a position that was flatly rejected by the Hans Blix-led Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission … However, in the Thematic Debate on nuclear weapons, Ambassador Khan of Pakistan observed that further coercion could be counter-productive and place the whole region in jeopardy, noting also that “[a]symmetry, imbalance and discrimination” would ultimately propel proliferation rather than facilitating the goal of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East”.

This summary of the debate in the UNGA’s First Committee was written by Michael Spies of Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, and can be found online here.

Mousavian rearrested

There has been very little comment on the re-arrest of Hossein Mousavian, the Iranian former nuclear negotiator, who was initially arrested last May. This time, specific charges have been filed against Mousavian, who was also formerly an Iranian Ambassador to Germany.

The Times of London reported that: “Hossein Mousavian, who was the main nuclear negotiator under President Khatami, is accused of passing classified material to the British Embassy in Tehran. ‘He has been informed of the charges that he has given the British Embassy information contrary to the security of the country’, said Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, Iran’s Intelligence Minister. ‘From the viewpoint of the Intelligence Ministry, he is a criminal’. Mr Mousavian was first arrested in May and spent ten days in prison on unspecified charges of espionage before being released on bail. Diplomats said that the charges brought against Mr Mousavian were the result of domestic politics … One source said: ‘We’re not treating these allegations with any seriousness’. There is no suggestion that Mr Mousavian is accused of being in cahoots with British intelligence officers. Mr Mousavian left the Government when President Ahmadinejad was elected but remained an ally of the Iranian leader’s most powerful rivals, former presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani. Both have accused Mr Ahmadinejad of endangering the Islamic Republic with his confrontational rhetoric on the nuclear issue…”
The TImes of London report on Mousavian’s re-arrest is here.

While these unnamed (British) diplomats were not treating the allegations “with any seriousness”, it is probably very different for Mr. Mousavian.

Mousavian’s arrest and re-arrest have been viewed as part of an internal Iranian power play — just as the stakes have been raised in Iran’s determined pursuit of its own independent and indigenous uranium-enrichment capability. One observer said that what Mousavian had done was probably no more than normal diplomatic activity (communicating with his various counterparts in other embassies and missions). But, the risk to Mousavian is real.

See UN-Truth’s earlier postings about Mousavian, including Shahram Chubin’s take on Mousavian’s arrest in May, here.

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna should be holding an important discussion of the Agency’s latest report on Iran next week — on 22 November.

Does UNSG BAN know something we don't?

In an interview published today in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, in which he was asked whether he was concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, UNSG BAN Ki-Moon said: “Yes, I’m very worried about Iran’s nuclear progress.”

Reuters news agency is reporting from Rome that BAN also said “he had met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad briefly during the recent U.N. General Assembly, and was prepared to meet him privately if necessary. ‘I have said with great urgency on many occasions that the differences can be resolved through peace, through dialogue; a war or military action is not desirable in any way’, Ban said”.  The Reuters report on BAN’s interview in La Stampa is posted here.

Yesterday, in advance of further discussion next week in Europe of a possible third round of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council, the U.S. went ahead and imposed its own new sanctions.

[The new U.S. sanctions, according to the NY Times today, “designated the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guard and four state-owned Iranian banks {Bank Melli, Bank Mellat, Bank Saderat and Bank Kargoshaee} as supporters of terrorism, and the Guard itself as an illegal exporter of ballistic missiles … But it also reflected some caution by an administration that has also accused the Quds force of aiding Shiite militia attacks on American soldiers in Iraq, and has even detained some Quds force members there, but has resisted calls for retaliatory strikes inside Iran … The administration clearly hopes to enlist allies around the world in its new, tougher stance — in part because the United States, having maintained its own stiff sanctions against Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979, does not have much leverage left itself. The administration hopes its influence can turn Iran into a political and economic pariah from which more foreign institutions will shy away … The United States is not accusing the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps of being a terrorist organization, a step advocated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York … But Thursday’s announcement is still an ambitious attempt to squeeze the upper echelons of the Iranian government, including the Ministry of Defense.  It is the first time that the United States has tried to use the terrorist label and the sanctions associated with it to isolate or punish another country’s military…”
The NYTimes report on the new U.S. unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran is here.]

The Associated Press reported from Tehran on 11 October that Iran claimed to have given required answers (at least some) about Iran’s nuclear program to a visiting team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): ” ‘In these long talks, the Iranian side presented an additional explanation about its P-1 and P-2 centrifuges to remove remaining ambiguities and questions’, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Iran’s deputy nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi as saying … IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen headed the U.N. delegation that met with Vaeedi’s team…” The AP added that IAEA inspectors were “allowed to revisit a heavy-water reactor under construction outside Arak in central Iran that has been off-limits since April”, and that “IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei praised Iran’s cooperation with the agency in September as a significant step, but urged Tehran to answer all questions — including reported experiments that link enrichment and missile technology — before the end of the year”.
The AP report from Tehran in mid-October is posted here