Entries in Tehran (18)


Iran Summit: Tehran Hosts 100 Countries, Denies Nuclear Ambitions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is hosting the biggest international summit it’s held in its modern history, and the country that is known for provocative words and unpredictable actions is trying to paint itself as the victim of lies, unfair sanctions and terrorism.

The Iranians have gathered representatives from more than 100 countries, all clearly aware that the U.S. considers Iran an immense threat to the world’s nuclear security and a major source of terror.

But in Tehran, everywhere the delegates go, they see descriptions of horrors the Iranians say were inflicted on their “innocent” citizens. One of the major displays the Iranians have set up is a series of cars, all of them bombed. The drivers of the cars were Iranian scientists.

The attacks were right out of a spy thriller: The bombs were planted on the cars by a speeding motorcycle driver. Iran blames Israel for the violence and there has been no flat-out denial from Israel.

At the summit the Iranians even trotted out the scientists’ widows and children. Some delegates have been offered tours of a nuclear facility the Iranians claim is for peaceful purposes. But the U.S. says satellite photos show the facility has been sanitized in recent weeks and the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday that Iran has added about 1,000 new machines in an underground site that produce material that can be used to construct nuclear weapons.

“This information that the United States announced to the people, it’s wrong,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.

Mehmanparast also called threats by Israel to attack nuclear facilities “a joke” and said if Israel attacks, Iran may respond militarily.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

The summit will make it hard to argue that Iran is isolated, but nothing has changed the minds of the U.S. and especially Israel that Iran continues to rapidly make progress toward a nuclear weapon.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Says It Foiled Cyber Attack on Oil Production

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- The Iranian government claimed Monday that a massive cyber attack on the country's oil industry had been foiled, though it did damage some computer motherboards and erased some data.

"The cyberattack has not damaged the main data of the Oil Ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company," Oil Ministry spokesman Ali-Reza Nikzad told Iran's Fars News Agency. "We have a backup from all our main or secondary data, and there is no problem in this regard."

According to Nikzad, a virus attacked the ministry's main data systems, though he did not attempt to place blame for the alleged incident. The virus was reportedly found late Sunday inside the control systems of the country's main oil export terminal on Kharg Island, north of the Strait of Hormuz, which ships 80 percent of Iran's oil exports.

Iran's Mehr News Agency quoted a defense official as saying Kharg Island and the Oil Ministry were taken offline to protect them. The Oil Ministry's Nikzad said that Sunday's attack had been foiled by separating the servers from each other and disconnecting servers from the Internet.

Western nations, specifically Israel and the U.S., were widely believed responsible for the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010 and damaged centrifuges, delaying Iran's production of enriched uranium. Though Stuxnet was found in computers worldwide, more than half of the computers affected were inside Iran.

Iranian state media said that after an attack by the Duqu virus in 2011, the government had taken measures to insulate its infrastructure from computer malware. The Duqu virus was apparently designed to gather information that could aid in future attacks.

The alleged attack did not affect oil production or distribution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nuclear Scientist Assassinated in Iran, Blame Placed on Israel

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- A scientist who worked at one of Iran's sensitive nuclear sites was killed in a targeted bomb attack in Tehran Wednesday morning, state media reports.

According to Fars New Agency, an unidentified motorcyclist planted a magnetic bomb on the car of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, the deputy director at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, killing him and injuring two others.

An Iranian official has blamed Israel for the attack.

"The bomb was a magnetic bomb similar to the bombs that were earlier used for the assassination of [Iranian] scientists and actually the job was done by the Zionists," Tehran's Deputy Gov. Safar Ali Baratlo told Far News Agency.

Wednesday's incident comes amid increasing tension between Iran and the West, who worries that Iran is getting closer to building a nuclear weapon.  As a result, the U.S. and other nations have slapped political and economic sanctions on the country. Iran has responded by threatening to cut off oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Tests Long-Range Missile  

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran test-fired a surface-to-surface cruise missile on Monday during a drill that the country’s navy chief said proved Tehran was in complete control of the strategic Strait of Hormuz—the passageway for one-sixth of the world’s oil supply.

The missile, called Ghader, or Capable in Farsi, was described as an upgraded version of a missile that has been in service before. The official IRNA news agency said the missile “successfully hit its intended target” during the exercise.

An earlier version of the same cruise missile had a range of 124 miles (200 kilometers) and could travel at low altitudes. There were suggestions it could counter the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s 10-day navy drill, which ends Tuesday, was Tehran’s latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its nuclear program.

“The Strait of Hormuz is completely under our control,” Iran’s navy chief Adm. Habibollah Sayyari said after Monday’s test. “We do not allow any enemy to pose threats to our interests.”

State TV showed footage Monday depicting the launch of two missiles, which were fired into the sky and which the TV said could hit targets “hundreds of kilometers (miles) away” from the point of origin. The broadcast said two more missiles, with a shorter range, were also tested Monday.

“We conducted the drill … to let everybody know that Iran’s defense and deterrence powers on the open seas and the Strait of Hormuz are aimed at defending our borders, resources and our nation,” said Sayyari, the navy chief.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nuclear Isotopes Caught Heading to Iran

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- Russian customs agents said Friday morning they found 18 pieces of radioactive metal in the luggage of a passenger bound for Tehran. A radiation detector at the airport identified the luggage, which had levels of radiation 20 times the limit.

But on closer examination the isotope was identified as Na22, which is used in medicine. It is commonly used to trace sodium in the body. It cannot be used in the production of nuclear weapons.

Russia has an agreement with Iran to supply medical isotopes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Blocks US 'Virtual Embassy'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department's attempt to establish a means for direct dialogue with Iranian people did not last long. Within 12 hours of its official launch Tuesday, Iranian authorities had blocked the U.S. Virtual Embassy Tehran.

The site, which offered information about U.S. policies, culture and visa applications as well as opportunities for U.S. study, was meddling in Iran's domestic affairs, said a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, as reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The English and Farsi versions of the site went live Tuesday at 6 a.m. EST, but both were blocked in Iran by 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, the State Department said they expected as much.

“We are fairly confident that we're able to recover from these kinds of temporary compromises of the site. You know, of course, the fact that they would -- in fact, the Iranian government would attempt to block access to a site that, as we walked you through yesterday, does nothing more other than offer information about how to travel to the United States and opportunities for travel to the United States, as well about our policies, in a very transparent and straightforward manner, speaks volumes about their trust in their own citizens and then -- and closing them off to the outside world,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

The State Department says they have data showing that some in Iran are still able to access the sites. Many Iranians use virtual private networks, or VPNs, which route a user’s Internet access through another location, thereby bypassing the state controls. The State Dept. doesn’t, however, have any figures to back it up, mainly because by design it is hard to track from where a user is employing a VPN.

“For example, there's millions of Iranians who have access to Facebook and they'll also be able to use these so-called VPNs to access this site,” Toner said.

Within 24 hours both sites saw about half-a-million hits, most from outside Iran. The English version saw 2,001 unique users coming from within Iran, and the Farsi version saw 7,770.

“We've also been in contact with our firewall team at the hosting company and have seen no indication that the site's been violated,” Toner said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Students Storm UK Embassy in Tehran

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEHRAN) -- Local students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday in a protest that may have been incited by the one-year anniversary of the death of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari.

Several hundred students trashed two British embassy compounds on Tuesday, tearing down flags and calling for the downfall of Britain, Israel and the United States.

The attack came on the anniversary of the death of Shahriari, which the Iranian government claims was an operation conducted by Israel's Mossad and the U.K.'s MI6.

Iranian police used water cannons in an attempt to subdue the protesters. There were reports of clashes between rioters and police.

Police eventually regained control of the embassy.

President Obama said that he was “deeply disturbed by the crashing of the English embassy” in Iran and that the assault indicates that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously.

“That kind of behavior is not acceptable, and I strongly urge the Iranian government to hold those who are responsible to task,” Obama told reporters during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands in the Oval Office.

“They have a responsibility to protect diplomatic outposts. That is a basic international obligation that all countries need to observe, and for rioters, essentially, to be able to overrun the embassy and set it on fire is an indication that the Iranian government is not taking its international obligations seriously,” the president added. “Obviously we’re deeply concerned about that situation and we expect to see some sort of definitive action sometime very quickly.”

Tuesday's attack has already drawn comparison to the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, when U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days during the Iranian Revolution.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Secretary Clinton: US to Launch 'Virtual Embassy' to Reach Iranians

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is looking to launch a “virtual embassy” online to reach out to Iranians since it does not have a physical embassy in Tehran, Secretary of State Clinton said Wednesday.
Clinton made the announcement in interviews with two Persian-language television shows, the first time she’s spoken to Persian television as America’s top diplomat.
“My goal in speaking with you today is to clearly communicate to the people of Iran -- particularly the very large population of young people -- that the U.S. has no argument with you,” she told the popular Voice of America program Parazit Wednesday. The show is modeled on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, but the interview was serious and featured questions submitted by viewers.
The website is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, Clinton said. It will offer guidance to Iranian students and others who want to apply for visas to visit the United States. She said the U..S wants to increase the number of Iranians studying in the United States. It’s unclear what other services the website will offer, but Clinton noted Wednesday that Iran is one of the most effective countries when it comes to restricting, blocking and monitoring Internet access.
“We have also seen the regime in Iran impose what amounts to an electronic curtain, it’s the 21st-century equivalent of the barbed wire and the fences and the dogs that the old Soviet Union used, because they come from the same mentality. They want totalitarian control over what you learn and what you say and even what you think and how you worship and all the things that go to the heart of human dignity and human freedom,” she told the BBC show Nowbateh Shoma, which means “Your Turn.”
“It’s our opinion that the regime has the most effective ongoing efforts to both disrupt the Internet online communication and more traditional forms of communication, obviously as well, like telephones, cellphones. And they also have a relentless campaign going to follow up on anybody they find who’s expressing themselves in anyway, which is sometimes hard to understand, that they consider subversive,” she told Voice of America.
Clinton confirmed that the U.S. is providing technology to Iranians that would allow them to circumvent those controls, but did not elaborate.
Clinton reiterated the Obama administration’s willingness to engage with the government of Iran, despite its nuclear ambitions and the recent alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
“We think there are reasons for regret on both sides, as to what has happened in the past fifty years. But we would like to forge a new relationship. President Obama was very committed to doing that, so far he hasn’t received a particularly positive response,” she said in the Voice of America interview.
Clinton also defended U.S. sanctions in Iran as an effective means of trying to change the Iranian regime’s behavior.
“We have always pursued a two-track policy, we are prepared to engage if there is willingness on the other side, and we use sanctions and the international community supports the use of sanctions to try to create enough pressure on the regime that they do have to think differently about what they are doing,” she told the BBC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Hikers Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal Released from Iranian Prison

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- After being held in Iran for more than two years on espionage charges, American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were finally released from jail on Wednesday.

The two will now be handed over to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles American interests in Iran since the U.S. doesn't have an embassy there, before they are flown back to the U.S.

Earlier Wednesday, Bauer and Fattal's attorney, Masoud Shafii, got the second judge's signature -- needed on their release order -- paving the way for their combined $1 million bail to be processed.

The hikers' release marks a public relations victory for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.  Ahmadinejad had hoped the two would be freed in time for his trip to the United Nations, and even promised their release last week.

Bauer and Fattal have been in Iran's Evin prison since July 31, 2009.  Iranian authorities claimed the two had illegally crossed over into their territory while they were hiking in northern Iraq, and charged them with spying for the U.S.

Sarah Shourd, a third hiker and Bauer's fiancée, was also detained then but was released after posting $500,000 bail in September of 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vacationing Second Judge Delays Bail Agreement in Hiker Case

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN) -- The second judge meant to sign documents releasing American hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal is reportedly on vacation.

The lawyer for the two jailed hikers has been back in court and going through the motions, awaiting a second signature on a bail-for-release agreement.

The paperwork on the million-dollar deal is grinding away very slowly. While one judge has signed the documents, the second has gone on vacation until Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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