Nuclear Weapons - 2008 Developments
On 5 January 2008 Tehran had asked the UN Security Council to close its 'nuclear dossier' and send it to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran's permanent envoy to the UN warned that the Security Council's further involvement in the matter would only complicate the situation and undermine the IAEA's credibility.
On 9 January 2008 Kyrgyz officials announced that they had taken possession of a small load of a radioactive substance discovered aboard a train bound for Iran. The material was placed in a special area in Kyrgyzstan.
On 12 January 2008 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed Iran's peaceful nuclear activities in a meeting with the visiting chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed el-Baradei.
On 13 January 2008 IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei secured the agreement in talks in Tehran during the weekend. But the United States had already said the accord did not touch upon the core issue, namely the refusal of Iran to halt uranium enrichment. The agreement el-Baradei carried away with him from Tehran dealt with two issues. One related to the so-called military-linked studies. Those included indications that Iran was examining how to convert uranium dioxide into a semi-refined product called UF4, which can be refined further into gas suitable for an enrichment cascade; and among other things, that Iran was studying designs for missile reentry vehicles. The second issue related to radioactive contamination found at an Iranian technical university. The IAEA wanted to know how this uranium contamination got there, and it wanted access to the individuals working at the university, as well as to the equipment that was used.
On 16 January 2008 an Iranian news agency said that Iran's top nuclear negotiator will visit China on 17-18 January 2008, ahead of next week's Iran Six talks on possible new sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Two sets of UN Security Council sanctions were put in place against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used in both electricity generation and weapons production. A further round of more stringent sanctions had so far been blocked by China and Russia.
On 17 January 2008 the Israeli foreign minister said that Iran's ongoing uranium enrichment program pointed to the military aspect of its nuclear program. During her visit to Moscow, Tzipi Livni said that now that Russia had started nuclear fuel deliveries to the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, any further uranium enrichment could serve a military purpose.
On 24 January 2008 a senior U.S. official said a new U.N. sanctions resolution aimed at pressuring Iran to curb its sensitive nuclear activities was to be "punitive," despite Russian remarks to the contrary. Iranian state media said Russia had delivered a sixth shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran's first atomic power plant at Bushehr. Iran's state news agency (IRNA) said 66 of an expected 82 tons of fuel had now been shipped to the Bushehr plant in southern Iran. Russia moved into the final stages of construction of the Bushehr reactor. Iranian officials said that they planned to start running the facility around mid-2008.
On 25 January 2008 Iran acquired its sixth shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia, for use at its Bushehr nuclear reactor. At the time Iran was still waiting for the remaining 16 tons out of the 82 tons of nuclear fuel promised.
On 26 January 2008 Iran's foreign minister said that Iran was hoping that the UN Security Council would not adopt a new resolution on sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its controversial nuclear program. He reiterated that last year, the IAEA issued a generally positive report on Tehran's cooperativeness with UN inspectors, and a U.S. intelligence community report stated that the country had dropped nuclear weapons research several years ago. Tehran continued to insist that it needed nuclear technology to generate electricity and planed to hold tenders for the construction of 19 new nuclear reactors.
On 27 January 2008 Iranian President's Top Advisor said in Davos that a new resolution by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Iran's peaceful nuclear program would not have political or economic impact on the country. He pointed to the fact that the UN nuclear watchdog had been the only authorized body to supervise nuclear activities of countries, he added that the agency's recent report on Iran's nuclear activities showed there was no diversion from its civilian trend.
On 28 January 2008 Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran had addressed a bulk of questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its peaceful nuclear program. Turning to the cooperation between Iran and IAEA, he added that within the framework of the modality plan, Tehran agreed to address questions and ambiguities over its nuclear activities and the process was at its last stages.
On 30 January 2008 Iran's president called on other countries to help the Islamic Republic build new nuclear reactors, but said that his country would do so alone if denied assistance.
On 4 February 2008 the head of the Bush administration's "senior dialogue" with China, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte, said he was confident of Beijing's support to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran after a round of diplomacy. Negroponte said China's agreement on a third round of UN sanctions against Iran showed that despite some differences, which include China's investment in Iran's energy sectors, "by and large China was in sync with us on this issue. And they certainly did not want Iran to become a nuclear-weapons state."
On 5 February 2008 Russia called on Iran to freeze uranium enrichment until key issues in its nuclear program were cleared up with the IAEA, a Russian deputy foreign minister said.
On 6 February 2008 a senior Russian diplomat said that Iran's test launch of a rocket earlier that week raised "suspicions" about the country's nuclear program. Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov who said that long-range rockets were one of the components of a nuclear weapons program.
On 14 February 2008 the IAEA announced that they have begun inspections of the Iranian Bushehr nuclear facility. Russia delivered the final fuel shipment to Bushehr on 28 January 2008. With the eighth delivery of five metric tons, Russia supplied a total of 82 metric tons of low-enriched uranium to the light-water nuclear power plant, which had been the focus of international attention over fears that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.
On 17 February 2008 Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said that Iran provided the IAEA with data about the new generation of centrifuges in Natanz. He told reporters during his weekly press briefing that the International Atomic Energy Agency had demanded information about operation of the new generation of centrifuges in Natanz. He added that all Iran's nuclear activities were within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and under the IAEA Safeguards.
On 26 February 2008 Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran and IAEA had concluded work on Modality Plan and cooperation between the two sides would be continued within the NPT and IAEA's Safeguard Agreement.
On 3 March 2008 the International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed el-Baradei said that the IAEA had managed to clarify scope and nature of Iran's enrichment program, specifically the P1 and P2 centrifuges. Also the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution which imposed a third round of sanctions on Iran for its controversial nuclear program.
On 2 April 2008 Israel's security Cabinet decided to redistribute gas masks to the entire population amid fear of a non-conventional war with Iran. Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai initiated the redistribution. Vilnai told Israel Radio that handing out gas masks did not mean that war with Iran was imminent. Nevertheless, there was a growing concern about Iran's nuclear program and the threat made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel "off the map."
On 8 April 2008 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Republic had started to install another 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at its underground facility in Natanz. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran had around 3,000 functional enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear research center, which experts believe is enough to launch full-scale production of nuclear fuel.
On 9 April 2008 a deputy head of the country's nuclear energy organization said that Iran would build another uranium enrichment facility by next March of 2009.
On 21 April 2008 a top official from the international nuclear watchdog, who arrived in Tehran that morning on a two-day visit, started the first round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. Olli Heinonen, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, met with the Islamic Republic's top security and nuclear officials behind closed doors.
On 23 April 2008 news of Tehran's agreement to cooperate in clarifying whether or not it had been involved in nuclear-weapons development was provided in a brief statement by the IAEA. The IAEA considered the agreement to be a positive sign. It came a day after Iran's government described talks with top IAEA investigator Oli Heinonen in Tehran as positive.
On 1 May 2008 Azerbaijan allowed the Russian equipment for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, held up for over a month on the Azerbaijan-Iran border, into Iran, stated Iran's Foreign Ministry.
On 5 May 2008 one of Vladimir Putin's last actions as head of state was to sign a decree which implemented a UN Security Council resolution that imposed new sanctions against Iran.
On 12 May 2008 Iranian officials and a technical delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) started their third round of negotiations at Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) in Tehran.
On 26 May 2008 the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog circulated his latest report regarding Iran's nuclear program to both the Security Council and the agency's Board of Directors. The report stated that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program, however there was still concern over the military dimensions of the program.
On 2 June 2008 the International Atomic Energy Agency began a five-day meeting in Vienna to examine Iran's nuclear activities, as well as suspicions that Syria secretly might have tried to build a nuclear reactor. The IAEA report issued last week on 26 May 2009 said Iran had not provided enough evidence to refute that it was trying to make nuclear weapons.
On 14 June 2008 Iran received a package of incentives from six major powers aimed at getting the country to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. The package from world powers included economic, technological and political incentives. Solana arrived in Tehran Friday on behalf of the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States. The package, agreed to in May, was a revised and enhanced version of an offer turned down by Iran in 2006.
On 16 June 2008 U.S. President George Bush won British support for his dual appeal for more troops for Afghanistan and more pressure on Iran. At a joint news conference that followed the talks in London, Prime Minister Brown said his government was going to freeze the British assets of Iran's largest bank. And he warned Tehran it faced ever increasing sanctions if it refused to suspend nuclear enrichment.
On 19 June 2008 Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during a visit to Uganda said the package put forward by six major world powers was under consideration. He said Iran had informed the six nations, Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States, of its readiness to negotiate, and would respond to the package at "an appropriate time."
On 29 June 2008 a high-ranking Iranian nuclear official said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant that was being built in Iran would be launched in October 2008. Russia was building the $1-billion facility, Iran's first nuclear power plant, in the south of the country in accordance with a 1995 contract, and under UN supervision as Iran had been under international scrutiny over its compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
On 6 July 2008 Iran and the European Union agreed on a timetable for negotiations on the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program.
On 8 July 2008 the United States imposed financial sanctions against six Iranian individuals and five companies for alleged ties to the country's nuclear and missile programs.
On 17 July 2008 a court in the Astrakhan Region, south Russia, began to consider a criminal case against an Uzbek man accused of trying to smuggle items into Iran used in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Customs officials established that the container's contents did not match the declared goods, and a further examination confirmed that the materials could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction.On 26 July 2008 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation now had as many as 6,000 uranium enriching centrifuges.
On 2 August 2008 a top Iranian official dismissed a deadline to reply to an offer made by major powers concerning Tehran's nuclear program. Iran's foreign minister denied that his country faced any deadline to accept an incentives package in exchange to suspend uranium enrichment activities, or face additional sanctions.
On 8 August 2008 the European Union imposed new trade sanctions against Iran as Tehran continued to hold out against international demands that it freeze its nuclear enrichment program.
On 29 August 2008 a top Iranian official said the country now had 4,000 working nuclear centrifuges.
On 15 September 2008 the United Nations nuclear agency accused Iran that it blocked a U.N. investigation into allegations that Tehran tried to make nuclear weapons. In the report, the IAEA said it had made no substantive progress in its investigation of alleged Iranian nuclear weapons studies. The agency said it remained seriously concerned about the programs.
On 26 September 2008 the United States and Russia joined other major powers when they endorsed a new U.N. Security Council resolution draft which called on Iran to comply with international demands to halt its uranium enrichment program. The draft, expected to be approved by the full council next week, reaffirmed the existing U.N. sanctions against Iran but contained no new ones.
On 1 October 2008 a senior Iranian MP said that Iran was likely to limit cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency after a new UN resolution on the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program.
On 5 October 2008 Israel was preparing a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and would act before Tehran created a nuclear bomb, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told an Israeli newspaper.
On 17 October 2008 Russia planned to ship around 1,000 tons of equipment necessary to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, a top Iranian nuclear official said.
On 22 October 2008 the U.S. Treasury Department said the Export Development Bank of Iran had illegally helped the Iranian government violate United Nations sanctions. Washington then imposed unilateral sanctions on the bank.
On 6 November 2008 the U.S. Treasury moved to further restrict Iran's access to the U.S. financial system, in which it banned certain money transfers. The Treasury Department announced that it planned to revoke Iran's so-called "U-Turn" license, which allowed transfers to briefly enter the United States before being sent to offshore banks.
On 13 November 2008 world powers met in France on Thursday to address Iran's nuclear program, but there was no breakthrough in strategy. The meeting came a day after Iran said it test-fired a new generation missile, the Sejil, capable of striking Israel and southeastern Europe with greater precision.
On 26 November 2008 the country's civilian nuclear chief said that Iran had over 5,000 working centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant. In its latest report on Iran's nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, said that 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges had already been installed at Iran's Natanz nuclear center, and that 3,800 of them were in operation. Also the construction of 40-megawatt Arak reactor was in progress and its first phase for production of nuclear rods and fuel would become operational by the year end, stated the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Reza Aqazadeh.
On 30 November 2008 Iran proposed to build light-water nuclear power plants jointly with neighboring Arab countries. The proposal was put forward by Gholamreza Agazadeh, Iranian vice-president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, who spoke at a conference on nuclear power plants, environment and sustainable development.
On 1 December 2008 Iranian authorities planned to build two new nuclear power plants instead of completing the second power unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The official specified that the construction of new nuclear power plants would be more efficient from an economic and technical viewpoint.
On 16 December 2008 the head of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant had made good progress, he hoped that it would become operational by March 2010.
On 27 December 2008 the U.S. Justice Department announced that it intended to seize a 40-percent share in a posh New York City skyscraper. Prosecutors alleged that the share was owned by Bank Melli, an Iranian bank that was fully owned by the Iranian government. They have also frozen some $3.1 million in assets that they said were held by a shell company representing the bank.
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