Friday, August 30, 2013

Iran Produces More Uranium

(Reuters) - Iran plans to test about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing, a U.N. nuclear report showed, a move likely to worry Western capitals hoping for a change of course under the country's new president.
The U.N. atomic agency's quarterly report - the first since relative moderate Hassan Rouhani won Iran's June presidential election - also revealed developments that could help buy time for diplomacy between Tehran and major powers, however.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran informed it a few days ago that the planned commissioning of the Arak research reactor - which could yield potential bomb material - had been delayed from early next year.
"This is a positive development since the reactor would produce plutonium that, if separated, could be used in nuclear weapons," a U.S. think-tank, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said in a comment on the report.
Further, Iran's most sensitive nuclear stockpile has hardly grown - remaining below its arch-enemy Israel's stated "red line" that could provoke military action - since the previous IAEA report in May.
Growth in Iran's reserve of uranium gas refined to 20 percent was held back as Iran stepped up conversion of the material into oxide to make fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran. The stockpile of 186 kg compares with the 240-250 kg which experts say would be needed for a bomb if refined further.
"It is unlikely, at this point, that Iran could dash toward further enrichment to weapons-grade without the IAEA detecting Tehran's activities," said the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based advocacy and research group.
Iran says its nuclear energy program is for electricity generation and medical uses only. It has rejected Western accusations that it is trying to develop the capability to produce nuclear bombs, despite having hidden sensitive activities from U.N. non-proliferation inspectors in the past.
Israel has threatened to attack Iran if diplomatic pressure fails to rein in its program and it amasses enough 20 percent enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
The IAEA's findings still showed Iran pressing ahead with its nuclear program at a time when the outside world is waiting to see if Rouhani will increase transparency and reduce confrontation in its foreign relations, as he has pledged.
The top Democrat on the foreign affairs committee of the U.S. House of Representation, Eliot Engel, renewed a call for tighter sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program after the report was released.
REACTOR DELAY
Envoys accredited to the IAEA had cautioned against reading too much into the latest inspectors' report as it mainly covered developments before Rouhani took office in early August, succeeding the conservative hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Separately the IAEA announced a resumption on September 27 of talks with Iran over how to get it to cooperate with an agency inquiry into "possible military dimensions" to its nuclear work. There have been 10 fruitless rounds of talks since early 2012, but the next session will be the first with Rouhani in office.
Obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, the IAEA report said Iran had fully installed a total of 1,008 new-generation centrifuges at the underground Natanz complex and was planning to test their performance, without giving a timetable. Iran started installing the new centrifuges in February, stoking Western concern.
The machines were "under vacuum", the report said, a key step towards starting them up.
Iran's progress in introducing advanced centrifuges is under close scrutiny in the West and Israel - which is assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal - because this would enable Tehran to speed up its accumulation of material that could be put to producing atomic bombs.
Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to produce enriched uranium, which Iran says it needs to fuel a planned network of nuclear power plants. But if further refined, uranium can also provide the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.
The report said Iran had begun making nuclear fuel for its planned Arak heavy-water research reactor but had put off its commissioning beyond the planned first quarter of 2014.
It was not unexpected as "many people couldn't believe the schedule. But it was the first time that Iran acknowledged this," an international official familiar with the issue said.
Western leaders are concerned the Arak complex could offer Iran a second path to weapons-grade fissile material by churning out plutonium. Iran denies any such intention.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sonya Hepinstall)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yellow Cake For Iran

U.S. arrests man from Sierra Leone in Iran uranium sting

MIAMI | Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:04pm EDT
(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors charged a man from Sierra Leone with trying to sell undercover agents 1,000 tons of yellowcake uranium he thought would be shipped to Iran, after he was arrested in New York with a sample of the toxic material hidden in his luggage.
Patrick Campbell, 33, of Freetown, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday after he arrived from Sierra Leone with the sample of uranium concealed in the soles of shoes in his luggage, according to a criminal complaint filed in a Florida federal court on Thursday.
He allegedly responded to an ad in May 2012 on the website Alibaba.com seeking to purchase uranium that was placed by an undercover U.S. agent posing as an American broker representing persons in Iran, according to an affidavit by Homeland Security Investigations agent Louise Miller.
Campbell agreed to travel to Miami to meet the supposed buyer, who could then analyze the purity of the uranium.
Campbell made an initial court appearance in New York on Thursday. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if he is found guilty of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran as well as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The United States and its Western allies are pressing Iran to curb its uranium enrichment program, which they say is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its nuclear activity is for purely peaceful purposes.
Campbell said he was affiliated with a company engaged in mining and selling of uranium, gold, and diamonds for export and communicated via telephone, Skype and email that he was seeking to buy processed uranium 308, also known as yellowcake, to be delivered to Iran, Miller stated.
Yellowcake uranium, when enriched, can be used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel and weapons.
The uranium was to be disguised in a mix with other types of ore. The shipment for delivery to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas was to yield 1,000 tons of yellowcake, according to the criminal complaint.
After his arrest, Campbell admitted to agents that he had engaged in talks for "a contract for the sale of uranium to be delivered to Iran," the complaint said.
When confronted, he also admitted that he had brought a sample of the raw uranium ore with him concealed in his luggage.
"Campbell assisted the agents in removing the Uranium from beneath the inside soles of his shoes and plastic bags containing Uranium were recovered from two of Campbell's shoes," according to the complaint.
A contract for the sale and delivery of the uranium was also found on a portable thumb drive in Campbell's possession.
(Reporting by David Adams and Kevin Gray; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Iran Has 18000 Uranium Centrifuges!

Iran has 18,000 uranium centrifuges, says outgoing nuclear chief

Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani says Iran has 17,000 older ‘first-generation’ IR-1 centrifuges; 1,000 new, more advanced centrifuges ready to start operations
A file photo of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities. Photo: AFP
Dubai: Iran has installed 18,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the country’s outgoing nuclear chief was quoted as saying by Iranian media on Saturday.
The US and its Western allies are pressing Iran to curb its uranium enrichment programme, which they suspect is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability, but Iran refuses and insists its nuclear activity is for purely peaceful purposes.
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator who oversaw a previous deal to suspend Iran’s uranium enrichment, has welcomed new talks with world powers over the programme but has insisted on Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
Iran has 17,000 older “first-generation” IR-1 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating and 7,000 are ready to start operations, the ISNA news agency quoted Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, outgoing head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), as saying.
A May report from the UN nuclear watchdog indicated that Iran had by then installed roughly 16,600 IR-1 machines in two separate facilities.
Abbasi-Davani also said there were 1,000 new, more advanced centrifuges ready to start operations, in a reference to IR-2m centrifuges, which once operational would allow Iran to enrich uranium several times faster than the IR-1 machine.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its last report in May said Iran had installed a total of 689 such centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings.
Rouhani on Friday appointed Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s previous foreign minister, to take over the AEOI. Salehi, who once headed the agency, is seen as a pragmatist, as opposed to the more hardline Abbasi-Davani.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Obama Cannot Stop THE FIRE

 NUKES, NUKES EVERYWHERE AND OBAMA FAILS TO REIGN THEM IN


From the start of his presidency, Barack Obama made reducing the world’s stock of nuclear weapons a priority, but that vision is now in shambles.
Last week, we learned that North Korea is quietly expanding its uranium-enrichment capacity at the Yongbyon facility. Nuclear-watchdog analyses of satellite photos and other data show that while Pyongyang had 2,000 centrifuges there three years ago, it now has 4,000. This doubling of capacity will let the Kim regime build four enriched-uranium bombs a year.
Analysts believe that Pyongyang has built fewer than a dozen plutonium-based bombs since it first tested a crude device in 2006. Now, with the more efficient enriched-uranium path, its capacity to threaten its neighbors is growing by leaps and bounds.
Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan showed in the last decade how readily scientists can spread nuclear know-how.
Meanwhile, as the North Koreans turn from plutonium to enriched uranium, Iran is moving in the opposite direction.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that, while the world has for years concentrated on the pace of Iran’s spinning centrifuges in secret enrichment sites like the Fordow facility, Tehran has quietly advanced plutonium production at its heavy-water plant in Arak — an alternate path that may allow it to build a bomb by next summer.
Testing plutonium-fueled bombs is how India and Pakistan went nuclear in the late 1990s, when they broke the five-superpower monopoly on nuclear weapons and ended a balance of power that had lasted for most of the second half of the 20th century.
Of course, Iran might just become “merely” a nuclear-ready power. The message will still be the same: We’re here, we’re nuclear, get used to it.
But it doesn’t end there.
As the world’s worst regime is set to further threaten East Asia, North Korea’s neighbors are unlikely to sit by and watch — especially when America is cutting naval budgets that once guaranteed their safety.
Japan, for one, has all the technology it needs to become a nuclear power. For all the deep historical trauma in the country of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tokyo may have no choice but to get its own bomb as the North Korean threat grows.
Ditto South Korea, Indonesia, et al.
And as the Mideast sectarian wars heat up, Saudi Arabia, its Gulf neighbors and other Sunni stalwarts like Turkey are unlikely to let Shiite Iran become the neighborhood’s only nuclear power.
As the club grows, going nuclear gets ever easier. Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan showed in the last decade how readily scientists can spread nuclear know-how.
What about Obama? In 2009, Obama told Czechs in a Prague speech that one of his top goals as president would be to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” He then pursued nuclear-arms-reducing pacts with Russia with all the enthusiasm of a 1980s “no-nukes” campus activist.
Along the way, he angered those Czechs and other European allies, like Poland, as he scrapped missile-defense projects just to induce Moscow to sign those treaties.
But signing those pacts didn’t shift the world’s course — because this era’s nuclear story isn’t about the size of US and Russian arsenals.
And as he worked on his Moscow “reset,” Obama’s half-hearted attempts to reverse Pyongyang nuclear advances went nowhere. And he’s seen no progress on his declared goal of stopping Iran from getting the bomb, either.
(That may yet change: Citing “music I’m hearing lately from Washington,” former Israeli army intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said last week that Obama’s “red light” on Israeli attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities “hasn’t changed to green, I think, but it’s definitely yellow.”)
For now, Obama’s holding off on any Iran moves until he determines if Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is really-really serious about diplomacy.
But the Arak heavy water facility is scheduled to go “hot” within months — at which point it would be virtually immune to bombings. So the US military threat may soon be nonexistent.
And as for our North Korea policy — well, we have none.
How far will the nuclear club grow? With so many less-savory regimes getting The Bomb, it’s going to be tough to keep them from proliferating next to top terror groups.
We’re fast advancing toward a radical global shift, in which everybody and his uncle will possess history’s most destructive weapons.
So, yes, War Is Bad For Children And Other Living Things. But no, the policy equivalent of hanging that poster on your dorm-room wall won’t stop it.
This opinion article originally appeared in the New York Post
Benny Avni is a New York Post columnist.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Antichrist Gains Power

Sadrist MP says movement “most powerful” in Iraq

Iraqi parliament Sadrist MP says Sadr Movement is strongest political power in the country
Followers of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr attend Friday prayers in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Followers of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr attend Friday prayers in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—A senior figure from the Sadr Movement, led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, said the movement was now the most powerful on the Iraqi political scene on Monday. He also said he was unsurprised by criticism of the Sadr movement from the prime minister’s party and elsewhere.
Mohammed Ridha Al-Khafaji, MP for the Sadr Movement’s Al-Ahrar Bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “at a time when many political parties and movements expressed their rejection of Moqtada Al-Sadr’s announcement of his intention to retire, and calling on him to change his mind, we were not surprised by the position taken by the Da’wa Party, which stems from its leader Nuri Al-Maliki, and also the State of Law Coalition, who were pleased with Sadr’s announcement. We can expect much more from those who conspired with the Americans against Sadr.”
On the differences between the movement and Maliki’s coalition, and whether the Sadr Movement was prepared to assume the position of prime minister, Khafaji said “the previous phase has proved the failure of Maliki, the State of Law and the Da’wa Party, and the results of the provincial council elections have come to prove that further, and therefore, the Sadr Movement is now the most powerful.”
Khafaji further revealed that there will soon be major changes within the Sadr Movement’s leadership and institutions, adding that “the next stage will see events that will astound the world, in regards to what the Sadr Movement will do as a popular youth movement. There will be fundamental changes within its leadership and institutions, and new blood will be introduced in order to raise the movement and its popular and political status, while the older leadership will take a position of consultancy due to their vast experiences.”
Following the July attack on Abu Ghraib and Al-Taji prisons, in which more than 500 Al-Qaeda prisoners escaped, the Sadr Movement joined forces with Shi’ite cleric Ammar Al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). They announced that “the recurrent security breaches clearly demonstrated negligence on the part of those in charge of Iraq’s national security,” pointing to Nuri Al-Maliki, who also holds the defense and national security portfolios, as well as the office of prime minister.
At the time, MP Amir Kinani of the Sadr Movement informed Asharq Al-Awsat: “Among the scenarios which will be put forward will be the resignation of Maliki, the Egyptian scenario of inciting the public to topple the government; or waiting for the results of the next parliamentary elections.”
Khafaji’s statements also followed denials from the Sadr Movement of reports that Moqtada Al_Sadr planned to retire from politics.
The movement said that Sadr had no intention of giving up political activity, and that his absence was due to his decision to undertake a religious retreat at the end of Ramadan.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Iran Will Destroy Israel

Destruction of Israel guaranteed, ayatollah says


video

Fars News Agency, an outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards, last week posted an audiotape of excerpts of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s speeches to Palestinian officials and others with a title “Palestine will surely become free.”
In the audiotape, which is partly in Arabic, Khamenei gives blessings to those who fight against Israel and says, “Peace be upon the children of our nation, peace be upon the brave jihadists in Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. Today the Islamic world and the whole world are witnesses to great revelations that show change in international affairs.”
The ayatollah promises a restructuring of the Middle East: “Palestine will be free, have no doubt in this. … Palestinians will return there and there will be a Palestinian government … and that is based on the truth revealed by God. A new Middle East will be … an Islamic Middle East.”
Khamenei attacks Israel for defending itself: “They attacked Lebanon – a mistake. They attacked Gaza – a mistake. They attacked those (Turkish) ships – a mistake. These mistakes, one after another, show that the murderous Zionist regime of Israel is reaching the final fall and destruction of its own non-existence.”
In promising the annihilation of Israel, the supreme leader also says, “There is no doubt that victory awaits the Palestinian people in the future, and the myth of Zionist power over this region will completely vanish, Allah willing.”
On Friday Khamenei called the current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority “futile” and said, “The U.S.-brokered talks … are aimed at undermining the Palestinians’ resistance.”
He assailed the U.S. for reviving the peace talks between the two.
Khamenei’s audiotape comes on the back of a statement by Hassan Nassrallah, the secretary-general of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
“Some think that the fall and destruction of Israel is only good for Palestinians,” Nassrallah said recently. “However, [such an event] will be good for all the countries of the region, and one cannot separate this threat [Israel] from Jordon, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. For this reason, the annihilation of Israel is in the national interest of Jordon, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.”
Nassrallah, quoted by Amar news, an Iranian media outlet, recalled a statement by the founder of the Islamic Republic: “Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini provided a clear and precise definition for Israel when he called this regime [Israel] a cancerous tumor. … And the only way to cure it is not to give it time, not give in to it and eradicate its roots.”
The clerics ruling Iran believe that Khamenei is the one named in a centuries-old hadith who will prepare for the coming of the Islamic last messiah, the Shiites’ 12th Imam, Mahdi. According to the hadith, Israel is to be destroyed before Mahdi’s re-appearance.
Mojtaba Zolnoor, an adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards, has stated publicly that a number of the Ulama (Islamic scholars) and authoritative grand ayatollahs have announced that Khamenei is quite possibly the fabled “Seyed Khorasani.” According to the Islamic hadith, Khorasani is an individual from the region who is not only a companion of the Mahdi, but also is responsible for setting the stage for Mahdi’s re-emergence.
Also, according to close associates of Khamenei, the supreme leader has acknowledged his role in history by telling a confidant (Mohammad Reyshahri) that Khomeini told him personally, “Dear Seyed Ali, it will be during the time of your leadership that the last Shiite Imam, Imam Mahdi, will re-appear.”
A video revealed in 2011, “The Coming Is Upon Us,” showed regime intentions: change in the Middle East, destruction of Israel and the coming of Mahdi. The video, produced by the regime, was to be distributed in the Middle East.
The Islamic regime, despite its public position on the destruction of Israel and despite several U.N. resolutions and sanctions by the U.S. and Europe, has expanded its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Reports indicate that the regime will not only achieve capability on intercontinental ballistic missile delivery – bringing the U.S. within its reach – by next year, but also the ability to arm those missiles with nuclear warheads.
The West, while concerned about the regime’s nuclear program, still hopes to reach a peaceful settlement and has offered further talks over the issue with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rowhani, who took office on Aug. 4.
In an Aug. 5 exclusive report, WND revealed a videotape of Rowhani in which he boasted of buying time during earlier negotiations with the West for the regime to build its nuclear program.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zimbabwe Helps Iran with The Fire

Zimbabwe’s Uranium Deal with Iran

zimbabawe uranium deal
Zimbabwe is in violation of the international sanctions by signing a secret deal with Iran last year to supply uranium to that country, and this will cause anxiety in the Western world.
Last year the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited several African countries with the hope of striking a stronger union and easing the crippling burden of the imposed sanctions against them. He is trying to boost Iran’s economy. It was reported that both Zimbabwe and Uganda had something to offer Iran and several meetings and visits between the countries surfaced.
A Memorandum of Understanding document has emerged and states that Zimbabwe will provide raw materials required to build nuclear weapons to Iran. The Deputy Mining Minister Gift Chimanikire told a British newspaper. Chimanikire is a member of the opposition party and will in all probably be replaced under the new coalition government. He also said that he was unaware of the uranium agreement signed last year, and it was only known to a few top government officials.
Crippling sanctions are imposed against Iran by both the United States and the European Union over its nuclear program. Although Tehran has insisted their program is for peaceful energy uses only. Iran remains under harsh criticism from the Western nations for undertaking its enrichment programs to produce nuclear energy.
Zimbabwe has received a lot of media attention lately regarding the general elections recently that appear to be corrupt and saw the Mugabe regime win another five years term. It is reported that the opposition party MDC has challenged the Mugabe landslide victory in a top court and is requesting a rerun of the election.
Robert Mugabe has in the past endorsed the Iranian Nuclear Program, and has accused the west of trying to exploit the two countries for asserting their independence and wanting to manage their own resources. Zimbabwe remains under international sanctions that are proving to have an adverse effect on the country. Zimbabwe is guilty of damaging the basic human rights of its country’s citizens.
The government of Zimbabwe has dismissed these reports claiming that a contract has been signed. There are some general cooperating agreements between the two countries for the energy, science, technology and agriculture, and it has been reported that the officials need to finalize the deals. It is noted that Zimbabwe would receive oil in exchange for its uranium deposits.
It is known that both Ahmadinejad and Mugabe are known for their controversial policies and anti Western style. Both of these leaders have clung to power by violent elections marred with allegations of fraud.
Analysts have reported that it would not happen quickly, and that there are no uranium reserves ready for export from Zimbabwe. With Mugabe, we can never be sure of the truth and must tread cautiously as he remains a strong unwavering tyrant who will not allow the Western countries to dictate to him. He continues to state that the western world is oppressive and arrogant toward both Iran and Zimbabwe.
Written by Laura Oneale

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Antichrist And His Men

Despite the long history of Shiite clerics attempting to influence politics in their communities, it is only in the past few decades that Shiites have witnessed clerics leading militias. The Iranian Fada’iyan-e Islam movement can be considered the first. This movement was led by a young cleric named Navab Safavi, and it targeted intellectual, religious and political figures who opposed its views. One of the movement's most well-known victims was Ahmad Kasravi, an Iranian historian and linguist. Following the Iranian revolution, Safavi was transformed into a symbolic hero, leading many Shiite revolutionary groups to emulate him. Furthermore, the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood movements had a general influence on revolutionary Shiite parties.
The Islamic Dawa party is the first example of an Iraqi Shiite party that has ties with Shiite religious figures. The party engaged in military actions against the former regime, which sometimes resulted in civilian deaths. In 2003, the Mahdi Army was established. This militia was led by Muqtada al-Sadr and became the first Shiite militia in Iraq directly led by a cleric. The Mahdi Army did not receive any support or acceptance from officials in the Shiite seminaries, and even faced criticism from Shiite authorities in Najaf. This was mentioned in a book titled "The Medical Therapeutic Journey of Sayyed al-Sistani and the Najaf Crisis," written by Sistani's official spokesman, Hamid al-Khafaf.
In my interview with Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum in December 2010, he said that Sistani had warned against providing any type of support to Shiite militias, considering them in violation of both religion and the law.
Finally, Sadr was forced to freeze the activities of the Mahdi Army in August 2007, after the militia was involved in acts of sabotage and massive violations of human rights. This also came after Sadr had a spiritual transformation regarding political and religious work in Iraq. This led to certain groups splintering off from the Mahdi Army to form new militias, the most prominent being Asaib Ahl al-Haq. This militia continued to carry out military operations, specifically against the US army in Iraq, with support from Iran.
Between 2008 and 2011, I met with many leaders of Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Iran, where they receive training and where those injured in military operations receive medical treatment. Following the withdrawal of US forces, the group turned to political participation and changed its name to the Ahl al-Haq movement. The movement [continued to] target those groups they considered to be in violation of Islamic law. Muhannad al-Gazi, an Iraqi social activist, told Al-Monitor on July 16 in Baghdad that groups affiliated with Asaib Ahl al-Haq have targeted cafes in the Karada district of Baghdad since the start of Ramadan this year. According to Gazi, one of the attackers was killed during clashes with cafe owners. Gazi said that when one of the group's members dies, they typically put up posters announcing the fighter was "martyred while carrying out his sacred duty." Moreover, there are frequent reports that Asaib Ahl al-Haq are participating in the sectarian fighting in Syria.
Since February 2013, there have been announcements about the formation of new militias at the hands of a cleric named Wathiq al-Battat. The latter has also formed a political party named Hezbollah Islamic Renaissance, which aims to enter the electoral race to establish a religious rule in Iraq according to the Iranian model. This has also coincided with military action on the part of Battat against Baathists and those he described as "takfiris," according to statements made by Battat during an interview with the al-Baghdadiyah TV channel. Battat had previously been linked to the Badr Corps, which was the armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), and later to the Mahdi Army in its fight against the US Army in Iraq. According to statements made by Battat in the aforementioned interview, he spent a long time in Iran, where he obtained a master’s degree from a military college. He also said that some Shiite religious scholars supported him when he founded the Mukhtar Army. These scholars include the leader of the Iranian Revolution Ali Khamenei, Kamal al-Haydari, Fadel al-Maliki and others. This claim has neither been confirmed nor refuted by these figures.
The Iraqi government has issued an arrest warrant for Battat, calling on citizens to cooperate capturing him. Yet, in the meantime, Battat is making appearances on satellite TV channels and holding formal, public meetings. The fact that the government has not been able to arrest him raises questions about the possibility that he is receiving regional support that the government cannot oppose. This is especially true given that Battat has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Camp Liberty, which houses members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a group that opposes the Iranian government.
Finally, this rise in Shiite militias could persuade Sunni clerics to follow suit, especially following their heavy presence in recent protests in Sunni areas of Iraq. This raises serious concerns about the escalation of the sectarian crisis in Iraq and the region in general.
Ali Mamouri is a researcher and writer who specializes in religion. He is a former teacher in Iranian universities and seminaries in Iran and Iraq. He has published several articles related to religious affairs in the two countries and societal transformations and sectarianism in the Middle East.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Iran Increases Uranium

Iran to Activate Thousands of Uranium Centrifuges: Ahmadinejad

July 31, 2013 | 12:02 p.m.
Iran is poised to activate 5,000 more uranium enrichment centrifuges, increasing its count of the operating machines by more than 40 percent, the country's departing president said earlier this week.
"Twelve thousand centrifuge machines are now running in our nuclear sites and 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operation,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday in televised remarks quoted by the Tehran Times.
The Persian Gulf power's refinement of uranium has been at the center of a years-long dispute with foreign powers -- including the United States -- because the process can generate nuclear-weapon fuel. Tehran insists its atomic activities are strictly peaceful.
The fate of new punitive economic legislation targeting Iran appeared unclear on Wednesday, as many of its original backers have since called for delaying action that could undermine possible engagement after Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani takes office next week, the New York Times reported.
Floor discussion of the bill is likely to start on Wednesday and a vote could take place on Thursday, said Megan Whittemore, spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). However, House lawmakers might put off final action until after their summer recess, separate sources said.
Meanwhile, an Iranian diplomat on Wednesday denied media claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet with Rouhani in August, ITAR-Tass reported.
“No meeting of this kind is planned,” Iranian Ambassador Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said. “The Iranian and Russian presidents are [expected] to meet in September in Bishkek."
Sajjadi said their governments had not conferred on potentially replacing a previously canceled S-300 air-defense shipment to Iran with more sophisticated technology, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday. U.N. sanctions prompted Moscow to cancel an earlier S-300 delivery, which experts had suggested might guard Iranian atomic assets against potential airstrikes.