August 22, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country's first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an "ambassador of death" to Iran's enemies.
The 4-meter-long drone aircraft can carry up to four cruise missiles and will have a range of 620 miles (1,000 kilometers), according to a state TV report — not far enough to reach archenemy Israel.
"The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship," said Ahmadinejad at the inauguration ceremony, which fell on the country's national day for its defense industries.The goal of the aircraft, named Karrar or striker, is to "keep the enemy paralyzed in its bases," he said, adding that the aircraft is for deterrence and defensive purposes.
The president championed the country's military self-sufficiency program, and said it will continue "until the enemies of humanity lose hope of ever attacking the Iranian nation."
Iran launched an arms development program during its 1980-88 war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo and now produces its own tanks, armored personnel carries, missiles and even a fighter plane.
Iran frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.
State TV later showed video footage of the plane taking off from a launching pad and reported that the craft traveled at speeds of 560 miles per hour (900 kilometers) and could alternatively be armed with two 250-pound bombs or a 450-pound guided bomb.
Iran has been producing its own light, unmanned surveillance aircraft since the late 1980s.
The ceremony came a day after Iran began to fuel its first nuclear power reactor, with the help of Russia, amid international concerns over the possibility of a military dimension to its nuclear program.
Iran insists it is only interested in generating electricity.
Referring to Israel's occasional threats against Iran's nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad called any attack unlikely, but he said if Israel did, the reaction would be overwhelming.
"The scope of Iran's reaction will include the entire the earth," said Ahmadinejad. "We also tell you — the West — that all options are on the table."Ahmadinejad appeared to be consciously echoing the terminology used by the U.S. and Israel in their statements not ruling out a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities.
On Friday, Iran also test-fired a new liquid fuel surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, with advanced guidance systems.
August 21, 2010
Trucks rumbled into Iran's first reactor Saturday to begin loading tons of uranium fuel in a long-delayed startup touted by officials as both a symbol of the country's peaceful intentions to produce nuclear energy as well as a triumph over Western pressure to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant will be internationally supervised, including a pledge by Russia to safeguard it against materials being diverted for any possible use in creating nuclear weapons. Iran's agreement to allow the oversight was a rare compromise by the Islamic state over its atomic program.
Western powers have cautiously accepted the deal as a way to keep spent nuclear fuel from crossing over to any military use. They say it illustrates their primary struggle: to block Iran's drive to create material that could be used for nuclear weapons and not its pursuit of peaceful nuclear power.
Iran has long declared it has a right like other nations to produce nuclear energy. The country's nuclear chief described the startup as a "symbol of Iranian resistance and patience."
"Despite all pressure, sanctions and hardships imposed by Western nations, we are now witnessing the startup of the largest symbol of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities," Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters inside the plant with its cream-colored dome overlooking the Persian Gulf in southern Iran.
In several significant ways, the Bushehr plant stands apart from the showdowns over Iranian uranium enrichment, a process that can be used both to produce nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. It also could offer a possible test run for proposals to ease the impasse.The Russian agreement to control the supply of nuclear fuel at Bushehr eased opposition by Washington and allies. Bushehr's operations are not covered by U.N. sanctions imposed after Iran refused to stop uranium enrichment. And last week, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the Russian oversight at Bushehr is the "very model" offered Tehran under a U.N.-drafted plan unveiled last year.
That proposal — so far snubbed by Iran — called for Iran to halt uranium enrichment and get its supplies of reactor-ready material from abroad.
Western leaders fear Iran's enrichment labs could one day churn out weapons-grade material. Iran claims it has no interest in nuclear arms, but refuses to give up the right to make its own fuel.
Iran has some of the world's biggest oil reserves, but lacks refinery capacity to meet domestic demand and must repurchase fuel on international markets. Nuclear power is seen as both a goal to meet power needs and an important technological achievement for the Islamic government.
August 17, 2010
Israel has "eight days" to launch a military strike against Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility and stop Tehran from acquiring a functioning atomic plant, a former US envoy to the UN has said.
Iran is to bring online its first nuclear power reactor, built with Russia's help, on August 21, when a shipment of nuclear fuel will be loaded into the plant's core.
At that point, John Bolton warned Monday, it will be too late for Israel to launch a military strike against the facility because any attack would spread radiation and affect Iranian civilians.
"Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once they're in the reactor, attacking it means a release of radiation, no question about it," Bolton told Fox Business Network.Absent an Israeli strike, Bolton said,
"So if Israel is going to do anything against Bushehr it has to move in the next eight days."
"Iran will achieve something that no other opponent of Israel, no other enemy of the United States in the Middle East really has and that is a functioning nuclear reactor."But when asked whether he expected Israel to actually launch strikes against Iran within the next eight days, Bolton was skeptical.
"I don't think so, I'm afraid that they've lost this opportunity," he said.The controversial former envoy to the United Nations criticized Russia's role in the development of the plant, saying:
"The Russians are, as they often do, playing both sides against the middle."
"The idea of being able to stick a thumb in America's eye always figures prominently in Moscow," he added.Iran dismissed the possibilities of such an attack from its archfoes.Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday:
"These threats of attacks had become repetitive and lost their meaning."
"According to international law, installations which have real fuel cannot be attacked because of the humanitarian consequences," he told reporters at a news conference in Tehran.Iranian officials say Iran has stepped up defensive measures at the Bushehr plant to protect it from any attacks.
Russia has been building the Bushehr plant since the mid-1990s but the project was marred by delays, and the issue is hugely sensitive amid Tehran's standoff with the West and Israel over its nuclear ambitions.
The UN Security Council hit Tehran with a fourth set of sanctions on June 9 over its nuclear programme, and the United States and European Union followed up with tougher punitive measures targeting Iran's banking and energy sectors.
The Bushehr project was first launched by the late shah in the 1970s using contractors from German firm Siemens. But it was shelved when he was deposed in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
It was revived after the death of revolutionary founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, as Iran's new supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his first president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, backed the project.
In 1995, Iran won the support of Russia which agreed to finish building the plant and fuel it.