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Entries in Uranium Enrichment Program (27)

Monday
Nov052012

Israel Ordered Iran Strike Preparations in 2010, Says New Report

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel's foreign intelligence agency and military were ordered in 2010 by the country's top civilian leadership to prepare for a strike on Iran, a report out Monday says.

The investigative report by Israeli television's Channel 2, which airs Monday night, says that when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered that Israel be put on a war footing, their intelligence chief accused them of "stealing a decision to go to war."

As a security briefing attended by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad chief Meir Dagan ended, Netanyahu is reported to have ordered them to raise the security forces to the pre-attack level of "P-Plus."

"This is not something you do if you are not sure you want to end up with a military operation," Ashkenazi is said to have responded, adding that the preparation would create "facts on the ground" that could lead to war. "This accordion produces music when you play with it."

Dagan was blunter with his bosses, according to the report. "You may be making an illegal decision to go to war," he said, since the full security cabinet has to declare war.

"The [Prime Minister] and Defense Minister simply tried to steal a decision to go to war," he said.

This is the first public account of the disagreement, though both Ashkenazi and Dagan have publicly criticized the prospect of a strike on Iran's nuclear program since they stepped down from their posts, Dagan in late 2010, Ashkenazi in 2011. Dagan has called it "a stupid thing."

In an interview with Channel 2, Barak confirmed that the order was made to raise the readiness to P-Plus but denied it meant war was inevitable. He accused Ashkenazi of saying the IDF didn't have the operational capability.

"A chief of staff needs to build the operational capacity, he should tell us professionally if we can operate or not and he can and should give his recommendation, but an operation can go through even if he opposes it," Barak said.

Ashkenazi responded: "I prepared for the option, the army was ready to attack, but I also said that an attack would be a strategic mistake."

It is unclear when exactly the episode took place and of course a strike never happened. In an interview last week with The Daily Telegraph, Barak said that Iran had avoided a "moment of truth" over this past summer by using a third of its enriched uranium for civilian research. Iran insists all of its enriched uranium is for civilian purposes.

Like Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Barak added that Iran would reach a "red line" of enriched uranium by next spring or summer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

Israeli PM Says Arab States Would Appreciate Strike on Iran

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- How would the Arab states react if Israel launched a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the shock would immediately be followed by praise for the action to neutralize a serious threat to the region.

Interviewed by French magazine Paris Match, Netanyahu downplayed the notion that knocking out Iran's nuclear plants would destabilize the Middle East because of imminent retaliation by Tehran.

The Israeli leader told Paris Match, "Five minutes after, contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region."

Netanyahu's reasoning is that Iran is not popular among its Arab neighbors who also understand "that a nuclear armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel."

The U.S. is opposed to Israel acting unilaterally to destroy the Iranian nuclear threat but hasn't ruled out that option if strong international sanctions fail to stop Tehran from ultimately building an atomic bomb.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

White House Says No Direct Talks Planned with Iran

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House has thrown cold water on a report that it is ready to enter into direct talks with Iran over its rogue nuclear program.

According to a story in Saturday's New York Times, Washington and Tehran have been engaged in back-channel discussions since the beginning of the Obama administration to find a way of agreeing upon one-on-one negotiations that might lead to Iran abandoning its enrichment of uranium, a key step in creating nuclear weapons.

The Times, quoting unnamed White House officials, says before any talks can start, Tehran wants to wait until after Election Day to learn who the next president will be.  GOP nominee Mitt Romney has vowed to take a harder line with Iran than Obama.

However, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the Times' story was not accurate and that there are no plans for any bilateral talks, saying that the U.S. would continue as part of the P5+1 -- United National Security Council members plus Germany -- to work toward a diplomatic solution to solving the crisis with Iran.

Vietor added that Obama "has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Iran Makes 'Baseless' Accusations Against UN's Nuclear Watchdog

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is again using familiar tactics to keep its nuclear program from coming under closer international scrutiny.

The latest ploy is accusing "saboteurs" of infiltrating the United Nations' nuclear watchdog group, which is seen as an effort to prevent inspectors from visiting its Parchin military installation where new activities have been reported.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, scoffed at what he considers Tehran's latest attempt to block the group from conducting inspections.

Amano said the allegations the watchdog has been infiltrated or passing along information to Western intelligence agencies were "baseless."

There are suspicions that the Iranian military is involved in a massive clean-up at Parchin to get rid of any evidence of illicit nuclear activities.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Iranian Supreme Leader Accuses West of 'Bullying'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Day to day, Iran's economy grows weaker because of sanctions imposed by the West meant to bring Tehran back to the bargaining table about possibly suspending its rogue nuclear program.

However, even a decision by the European Union earlier in the week to toughen the penalties hasn't dimmed Iran's resolve to keep enriching uranium, a key step to developing nuclear weapons.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said as much during a fiery speech Tuesday on Iranian state TV.

Khamenei told Iranians that their country's enemies keep "saying pressure against Iran is aimed at forcing the Islamic republic to return to the negotiating table" about the nuclear program.

However, the ayatollah alleged "Their real objective is (forcing) the Iranian nation to surrender to their bullying at the negotiating table."

Khamenei said the U.S., Israel and the West would ultimately fail "to bring Iran to its knees."

Meanwhile, Iran's currency has been devalued so much that citizens need large wads of cash to make the smallest purchases.  On top of that, Iranian banking authorities may no longer be able to print enough money.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Iran Claims Israeli Attack Would Have Occurred by Now

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A top Iranian official is essentially calling Israel's bluff.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday gave little credence to Israel's threat of launching a preemptive strike to knock out its nuclear facilities while mocking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent appearance at the United Nations.

According to Salehi, "If the Israelis had wanted to attack us, and if they could have done so, they would have done so long ago.  In 1981, they destroyed an Iraqi reactor without warning, but they have been threatening us for years, on every occasion and publicly."

The U.S. is opposed to an Israeli strike against Iran at this time, contending that tough economic sanctions have severely crippled the Iranian economy.

Meanwhile, Salehi was also dismissive of Netanyahu, telling the U.N. General Assembly that a "red line" had to be drawn so that Iran knows it cannot proceed further with enriching uranium, a major step in creating nuclear weapons.

The foreign minister said that Netanyahu was "childish to hold up a caricature of a bomb" in an effort to accentuate his point.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep042012

US Puts More Pressure on Iran to Delay Israeli Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The White House is making extra efforts to discourage the Israelis from launching a preemptive strike against Iran to cripple its rogue nuclear program.

According to a story in The New York Times, the administration "is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated."

These efforts include a mine-sweeping exercise in the Gulf involving the U.S. and over two dozen other nations intended to prevent Iran from blocking the Strait of Hormuz in order to keep oil flowing to the rest of the world.

The U.S. has also expanded its anti-missile coverage in the region with a new radar system in Qatar joining already existing installations in Israel and Turkey.

Even as Tehran moves ahead with its nuclear program, the White House believes these new strategies as well as current sanctions will force Iran to negotiate in better faith, thus forestalling an attack by Israel, which has the potential for further unsettling the region.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

UN Watchdog Group: Iran Has Doubled Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Obama administration is still intent on resolving its issues with Iran's rogue nuclear program in a diplomatic fashion even as a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated Thursday that Tehran has greatly increased its capacity of enriching uranium, a key step in developing atomic weapons.

According to the United Nations watchdog group, the number of centrifuges at Iran's Fordo nuclear facility has doubled to 2,140.

Israel is especially anxious about Iran's nuclear capabilities and has strongly suggested that it would act unilaterally to cripple the program with a preemptive military strike.

The White House, on the other hand, has been preaching patience even in the face of the threat Iran poses to Israel and the stability of the Middle East.

Responding to the news of the IAEA report on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing, "The window of opportunity to resolve this diplomatically remains open, but it will not remain open indefinitely."

As for a possible Israeli attack, Carney said, "Our position has been that there is time and space, as I just reiterated, to resolve this diplomatically."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Israeli Report Claims Obama Knows Iran Is Very Close to Nuclear Weapon

IIPA via Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- An Israeli newspaper is reporting that President Obama was just given new intelligence that suggests Iran is much further along in developing a nuclear arsenal than previously believed.

According to Haaretz, the National Intelligence Estimate report, which is regularly updated, stated that "Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program."

The U.S. and Israel have been at odds over whether a preemptive military strike should be launched to destroy Iran's nuclear program that Tehran alleges is for peaceful purposes.

Israel contends that sanctions and diplomacy have done nothing to stop Iran's uranium enrichment operations -- the key to making atomic bombs -- while the White House says sanctions have devastated Iran's economy as the administration prefers to exhaust all non-military options first.

Asked about the veracity of the Israeli newspaper story on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, "I don't comment on intelligence matters or intelligence reports the president may or may not have received.  I can tell you that the president remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the NIE report, if true, "comes very close to our own estimate, I would say, as opposed to earlier American estimates.  It transforms the Iranian situation to an even more urgent one."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun222012

Report: US, Israel Designed Malware to Thwart Iran's Nuclear Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- What appears to be a routine Microsoft update is in reality malware meant to cripple Iran's nuclear program.

U.S. and Western officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that the computer virus called Flame, which came to light last month when it turned up in cyber attacks on Iran's oil industry, was developed together by the U.S. and Israel.

Officials say Flame was designed to gather intelligence in anticipation of a campaign to affect Iran's uranium enrichment program, a key step in producing a nuclear arsenal.

While the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel are all declining comment, Flame is thought to be the most sophisticated attempt yet at cyber-sabotage launched by the U.S. in collaboration with an ally.

It remains unclear, however, when an actual cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear program or critical infrastructure systems might be implemented.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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