U.S. Issues Iran Nuclear Deadline Before Possible Military Action – Report

The U.S. government has given Iran a deadline of four to five months over nuclear talks before pursuing military options, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday night.

According to a senior U.S. official who spoke to the TV network, President Barack Obama plans to engage Iran in direct talks without involving Israel.

The move comes after reports that Israel leaked information about Iran’s nuclear program to the press, including diagrams of what appeared to show a blueprint for the use of a nuclear weapon. Experts at the time said the diagram was only an indication that Iran was looking to “understand the process” rather than to create a weapon.


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Israel to join US-led military coalition against Syria: Report [PressTV]

Israel may be part of a US-led military coalition against Syria in case the Damascus government decides to use its chemical weapons against foreign-backed militants, reports say.

The Tel Aviv regime is getting ready for such a scenario amid increasing speculation that the US military will intervene in Syria “within days” if chemical weapons are used, Hebrew-language Maariv newspaper reported.

The US intervention would involve Britain and other European allies. Some regional countries, including Turkey and Jordan, could also be involved.

Meanwhile, the British daily, The Times has confirmed that the forces which are set to take part in the US military intervention are already present in the region.

The US Special Forces are on standby and there is no need to deploy them, the daily quoted a US official as saying.

The Times reported in May that 12,000 soldiers from 19 countries had taken part in a US-led military drill in Jordan.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have vowed to take action if the Syrian Army uses chemical weapons during the ongoing turmoil within the country.


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Iran will take legal action against US for drone incursion: Salehi [PressTV]

Iran has vowed to take legal action against the United States at international courts for violating the Islamic Republic’s airspace over the Persian Gulf.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (file photo)

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday that the US ScanEagle drone, which had been captured by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) upon entering the country’s airspace over the Persian Gulf waters, would be used as evidence against the US at international courts, IRNA reported.

“We had formally protested such actions by the US and had announced that we would defend our borders by any means possible,” Salehi said.

“We had told the Americans that according to international conventions, we would not allow them to violate our borders, but unfortunately they did not comply…. Of course, we had objected to the Americans before, but they claimed they were not present in our territories. We will use this drone as evidence to file a legal case against the US invasion at relevant international bodies,” he added.


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Turkey rejects unilateral sanctions against Iran [PressTV]

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz (file photo)

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran are against the interests of Turkey and his country will not implement them.

Yildiz said on Thursday that Turkey is a member of the United Nations and while complying with UN decisions, it does not abide by unilateral sanctions imposed by other countries.

He also emphasized the importance of oil and gas imports from Iran to Turkey saying that Ankara reviews decisions that are against Turkey’s interests with more precision.

Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan also rejected the unilateral sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, saying that Ankara only abides by international agreements.

The Turkish officials’ remarks came after reports that the US Senate is considering new sanctions against Iran that would prevent Iran from getting paid for its natural gas exports in gold bullion.

A senior US Senate aide said that the sanctions would end Turkey’s sales of gold to Iran in payment for importing natural gas, referring to reports that Turkey has been paying for natural gas with gold due to the sanctions.

Iran to “decisively” continue uranium enrichment: nuclear chief [xinhuanet]

TEHRAN, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereidoon Abbasi, said Wednesday that the Islamic republic will “decisively” continue uranium enrichment, semi- official Mehr news agency reported.

Abbasi also said that Iran will test the Arak research reactor plant using “virtual fuel” in near future, said the report.

“I determinedly announce that the (work in) the Arak reactor plant is advancing according to the schedule and without any problem,” he was quoted as saying.

He denied delays in launching the plant due to some technical problems, saying that “We merely move ahead cautiously due to security considerations, since the enemy wants to cause damage in this reactor. We don’t have any technical problems or budget problem.”

“All the equipments which are needed for the preparation of the reactor have been bought from the market,” he went on.

According to earlier report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran’s IR-40 heavy water research reactor, near the central city of Arak, was scheduled to begin operation at the end of 2013.

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Dollar-Less Iranians Discover Virtual Currency []

Under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies, dollars are hard to come by in Iran. The rial fell from 20,160 against the greenback on the street market in August to 36,500 rials to the dollar in October. It’s settled, for now, around 27,000. The central bank’s fixed official rate is 12,260. Yet there’s one currency in Iran that has kept its value and can be used to purchase goods from abroad: bitcoins, the online-only currency.

Created in 2009 by a mysterious programmer named Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoins behave a lot like any currency. Their value is determined by demand, and they can be used to buy stuff. Bitcoin transactions are encrypted and handled by a decentralized global network of tens of thousands of personal computers. Merchants around the world accept the currency, from a bakery in San Francisco to a dentist in Finland. Individuals who own bitcoins and wish to exchange them for physical currencies like euros or dollars can use exchange sites such as localbitcoins.com, a Finland-based site founded by Jeremias Kangas. “I believe that bitcoin is, or will be in the future, a very effective tool for individuals who want to avoid sanctions, currency restrictions, and high inflation in countries such as Iran,” Kangas wrote in an e-mail.

The advantage for Iranians is that bitcoins can be swapped for dollars that can then be kept outside the country. Another plus: Regulators can’t easily track the transactions, since bitcoins aren’t issued from a central server. Bitcoin users can conduct business on virtual private networks, which hide customers’ identities.


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The Decline Of The Rial In The Iranian Media – Analysis

On July 11, 2012, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, publicly warned the Iranian press against publishing pieces about the negative effects of Western sanctions on the Iranian economy. This was the first time Hosseini openly admitted to the censorship of media, claiming that, “Our country is not in a position to allow the press to publish any analysis which is not agreeable with regime and national interests.”[1] This was three months before Iran saw its worst economic crisis since the Iran-Iraq war. By October 3rd, 2012, the rial hit a record low against the dollar—dropping to nearly 38,000 rials to the dollar—with inflation estimated around 40 percent and merchants in Tehran’s bazaar closing their shops in protest.

Iranian RialIranian Rial

With these new developments, the Iranian government cracked down even harder on the press and banned reporting on the newest currency rates. Sites that normally provided foreign currency rates, such as Mesgal.com and Mazanex.com were either completely shut down or, if able to be accessed, had blacked out rates for the dollar and the euro.[2] All branches of the government downplayed the sharp decline of the rial. On October 2nd, Ahmadinejad stated at a press conference that it was not simply the sanctions, but internal conspiracies and the psychological warfare of the West that had caused the fluctuation of exchange rates. He announced that the economic crisis was only temporary, that the government was doing everything it could, and “that the media has made the situation worse by announcing the prices.”[3] The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, gave a speech to a crowd of 10,000 people in the northern province of Khorasan and claimed, “News from the West has made our young people discouraged and desperate,” but “Our nation has never capitulated under pressure and never will.”[4] The head of the Basij commented on October 15th that, “The Iranian economy will flourish at new heights, while Europe will be caught under an avalanche.”[5] Paradoxically, the former Minister of Interior under Ahmadinejad, Sadegh Mahsouli, argued, “We are not in crisis, but actually in the best circumstances since the victory of the Islamic revolution. In every respect from internal security, political stability, public welfare, scientific progress, and spiritual influence in other countries and the world…”[6] Finally, the Minister of Economy, Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini, assured the public that the media was exaggerating the situation and that the government would swiftly resolve the economic hiccups. Despite these proclamations by government officials, the Iranian media was not as uniform in its reactions to the currency crisis.

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West raises pressure on neutral Switzerland over Iran [dailytimes]

While Switzerland has replicated the western line on Libyan and Syrian economic sanctions, it has reasserted its traditional neutrality over Iran and opted out of some of the measures passed by Europe and the United States

Switzerland’s neutrality is being tested as Brussels and Washington raise pressure over gaps in sanctions against Iran, in particular measures against its oil industry.

While Switzerland has replicated the western line on Libyan and Syrian economic sanctions, it has reasserted its traditional neutrality over Iran and opted out of some of the measures passed by Europe and the United States.

Washington and Brussels have severely tightened sanctions on Iran this year over accusations that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful. The EU imposed a ban on Iranian oil imports that took effect in July. Both the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Iran’s central bank. New US sanctions allow the White House to cut off access to the US financial system by third countries that trade with Iran. Switzerland says some of the measures simply go too far. “We are not putting in place, or are applying differently, sanctions that seem to us to go too far and tend towards ‘regime change’. In particular, that is the issue with the central bank, financial restrictions and the oil embargo,” Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter told Reuters.

Since the main US and EU sanctions took effect in July, Iran’s rial currency has tumbled and its oil exports have fallen, which Washington and Brussels say shows that sanctions are now having a real effect. The Swiss government chose not to join the European Union’s embargo on Iranian oil in July and did not add Iran’s central bank to a sanctions list. The gulf widened further in October, when the EU voted to tighten sanctions again. Burkhalter declined to comment on whether Switzerland plans to extend its sanctions this month. Switzerland’s prominence as a commodities trading hub means that its decision to stay neutral on the EU oil embargo could be more than symbolic. Geneva alone is responsible for over a third of global traded crude oil volumes and is home to top trading houses Vitol, Trafigura and Mercuria. These firms say they have stopped trading Iranian oil. Still, some Western diplomats are concerned that Swiss neutrality could lead to a repeat of events during South African apartheid when oil traders used Switzerland as a base for bypassing sanctions. Switzerland is also home to two Iranian oil firms – Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) and Petro Suisse Intertrade Company – which both feature on US sanctions lists. NICO, an oil trading firm owned by the Iranian government, was added to the EU blacklist in October. “It’s not a secret to say that the United States and the EU have a problem with Swiss non-alignment. I think it’s important for economic and for symbolic reasons for countries to stand shoulder to shoulder,” said a western diplomatic source. An EU diplomatic source said that the bloc had “tightened up the message” to Switzerland and was now “urging” the country to align with the last set of EU measures.

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From Sudan to cyber, secret war with Iran heats up

(Reuters) – From a suspected Israeli airstrike in Sudan to cyber warfare in the Gulf and a drone shot down over Israel, the largely hidden war betweenIran and its foes seems heating up and spreading.

Despite months of speculation, most experts and governments believe the risk of a direct Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear program stirring regional conflict has eased, at least for now. But all sides, it seems, are finding other ways to fight.

For the US and European powers , the main focus remains on oil export sanctions that are inflicting ever more damage on Iran’s economy.

But the Obama administration and Israel have also ploughed resources into covert operations – a campaign that now appears to have prompted an increasingly sophisticated Iranian reaction.

With Iranian hackers suspected of severely damaging Saudi oil facility computers and a suspected Hezbollah drone shot down over Israel, tactics and tools once seen as the sole purview of the United States are now clearly being used on both sides.

The mounting body count in Syria, some believe, is also in part a consequence of the proxy war being waged there.

A still image taken from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) video footage shows what they say is a small unidentified aircraft shot down in a mid-air interception after it crossed into southern Israel October 6, 2012. REUTERS/IDF via Reuters TV



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Iran prohibits exports of gold, coins without Central Bank’s license [trend]

Iran has prohibited exports of gold and golden coins from the country, without the license issued by country’s Central Bank, Mehr reported.

Iran prohibits exports of gold, coins without Central Bank's license

Deputy Director of Iranian Customs’ Technical Department Mohammad Rza Naderi said that because of exchange rate fluctuations at Iran’s markets, it has been decided to ban the export of gold to other countries.

All of Iran’s customs have been notified of the ban, so that no gold or gold coins would be exported from Iran without proper license from the Central Bank, Naderi said, adding that gold export from Iran should be going through strict control.

Speaking of agricultural sector, Naderi said that at the moment there is no shortage of agricultural products at Iran markets.

Yesterday, Iranian protection of consumers and producers society sent a letter to the country’s Ministry of Commerce, asking it to put ban on exports of some 50 items, which include food, chemical, industrial materials and so on.
In July, under the tightening international sanctions, Iran has started to stockpile emergency-first products, as part of country’s implementation of “economy of resistance”.

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“Surprise!” Canadian Firm Discovers Oil Field In North Afghanistan [eurasiareview]

(RFE/RL) — A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Mining Ministry, Jawad Omer, has told RFE/RL that the Canadian company Terraseis has located a large oil field in the northwestern part of the country.

“This area is situated between the Khan Charbagh and Aqeena border districts, where technical research has been conducted,” Omer said.

The site is in Faryab Province, near the border with Turkmenistan. Omer said more exploration would be done to get an accurate assessment of the size of the oil field.


The news comes as the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) started commercial production at an oil field in the neighboring Sar-e Pol Province on October 22.

Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani called it a “historic” day for his country, “that for the first time the process of commercial production of crude oil has started in Afghanistan.”

The CNPC is initially expected to produce nearly 2,000 barrels of oil per day at the Amu Darya site in Sar-e Pol Province but plans for a drastic increase in volume as more wells are opened.

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Bern does not support unilateral sanctions against Iran: Swiss FM [presstv]

Switzerland’s Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter says his country does not support any unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran over its nuclear energy program.


Burkhalter told reporters after a Thursday meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow that Bern is against unilateral sanctions on Iran, ITAR-TASS reported.

He stressed that Switzerland will never back unilateral sanctions imposed by any alliance other than the United Nations Security Council, adding, “As a rule, we don’t support such sanctions.”

This is not the first time that Bern opposes unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Last month, Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf censured unilateral Western sanctions against Iran and described the bans as ‘unacceptable’.

She said that Switzerland does not agree with the bans and will continue economic relations with Iran within the framework of the UN decisions.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program with Washington and the European Union using that false claim to impose illegal unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.


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UK to double number of drones in Afghanistan [Guardian]

An MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada

The UK’s existing Reaper drones in Afghanistan have flown about 40,000 hours so far. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The UK is to double the number of armed RAF “drones” flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan and, for the first time, the aircraft will be controlled from terminals and screens in Britain.

In the new squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), five Reaper drones will be sent to Afghanistan, the Guardian can reveal. It is expected they will begin operations within six weeks.

Pilots based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire will fly the recently bought American-made UAVs at a hi-tech hub built on the site in the past 18 months.

The UK’s existing five Reaper drones, which are used to target suspected insurgents in Helmand, have been operated from Creech air force base in Nevada because Britain has not had the capability to fly them from here.


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Israeli PM to visit France to discuss Iran’s “nuclear issue” [Xinhua]

JERUSALEM, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will depart next week on a visit to France where he will discuss with French President Francois Hollande Iran’s disputed nuclear program, according to a statement Xinhua obtained.

During the visit, Hollande is expected to urge the Israeli leader, who is reportedly contemplating military actions against Tehran’s nuclear facilities, to give diplomacy and sanctions more time, and reiterate the international community’s concerns over the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran.

France is one of the six countries on nuclear talks with Iran. The P5+1, namely five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany, have held three rounds of negotiations with Iran earlier this year.


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Iran threatens to stop oil exports, considers anti-Europe sanctions [RT]

A general view of Iran's first offshore oil platform, Iran-Alborz, in the Caspian Sea near city of Neka about 392 km (245 miles) north of Tehran (Reuters/Official website of the Iranian Oil Ministry)

Iran warns that it could stop exporting oil, driving global crude prices up, should the US and allied Europe tighten sanctions further. For such a case, Tehran says, it has a contingency strategy to carry on without oil revenues.

“If you continue to add to the sanctions, we will stop our oil exports to the world,” Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told reporters Tuesday. “The lack of Iranian oil in the market would drastically add to the price.”

Iran is currently under pressure from international sanctions, mainly in oil exports, imposed by the UN Security Council, the US and the EU in order to curb the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program. Washington and some if its allies believe the program is being used to develop a nuclear weapon.

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Iranian oil companies to file complaint against EU’s “illegal” sanctions [xinhuanet]

TEHRAN, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — Iranian private oil companies plan to lodge a complaint against the European Union (EU) in international courts in protest of the bloc’s “illegal” sanctions against Iran, Tehran Times reported Thursday.

Quoting a source on the condition of anonymity, the report said some of the companies, which have been included in the EU’s sanction list, are carrying out projects overseas and gained “huge ” revenues, so they are seeking ways to enable them to continue their activities and settle the problem through international courts.

The EU decided Monday to enforce fresh sanctions against Iran, including a ban on the import of natural gas from Iran to the EU. It also agreed to broaden the existing export ban on key equipment and entities for the Iranian oil, gas and petrochemical industries.

The EU imposed an embargo on Iran’s oil export on July 1.


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Iran sanctions ‘putting millions of lives at risk’ [guardian]

Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon has warned the UN that humanitarian operations in Iran are being hampered because of economic canctions. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty

Millions of lives are at risk in Iran because western economic sanctions are hitting the importing of medicines and hospital equipment, the country’s top medical charity has warned.

Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organisation supporting six million patients in Iran, has complained about a serious shortage of medicines for a number of diseases such as haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

Sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear programme are not directly targeting hospitals but measures imposed on banks and trade restrictions have made life difficult for patients, according to Hashemi, the daughter of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Two of her siblings are in prison on separate anti-state charges.

“More than anything else, we have a lack of medicines for patients suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis,” Hashemi told the conservative website Tabnak. “Those with thalassaemia or in need of dialysis are facing difficulties too – all because of sanctions against banks or problems with transferring foreign currency.”


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Western sanctions against Iran “illegal”: FM spokesman [xinhuanet]

TEHRAN, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that Western sanctions against Iran are “illegal.”

Talking to reporters in his weekly press briefing, Mehmenparast referred to the recent European sanctions against Iran saying that unilateral sanctions by Western countries against Iran are ” illegal”, “illogical” and are “inhumane.”

According to the Western states, their sanctions on Iran are conducted under the pretext of the nuclear issue of the Islamic republic, he said, adding that this is just an “excuse” to pressure Iran.

If someday the nuclear issue of the country is concluded, the West will pressure Iran using other excuses, he maintained.


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India to keep Iran oil shipments at current levels [PressTV]

Despite sanctions imposed against Iran’s oil exports by the European Union (EU) and the US, an Indian minister says his country plans to keep oil shipments from Iran at around current levels.

“We are neither trying to reduce nor increase imports from Iran,” India’s Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said at Petrotech 2012 Conference in New Delhi on Monday.

Iran with current estimated yearly export of 15-15.5 million tons of crude, is India’s fourth biggest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

“For India, energy security is a truly central issue. India is likely to emerge as one of the top 3rd or 4th importers in the world, of all energy forms – oil, coal, gas and uranium,” Reddy added.
The Indian minister noted that India and China alone will contribute to around 40 percent of the global growth in energy demand during 2010-2050.


File photo shows Iranian oil facilities in Azadegan oilfield, near the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz.


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Despite sanctions US export to Iran jumps by third [RT]

US export to Iran jumps by third

US export to Iran jumps by third

Despite increased sanctions against Iran this year, US exports to the Islamic Republic have increased by about a third, bringing earnings nearly $50 million higher in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2011.

The US Census Bureau found that from January through August, exports to Iran totaled $199.5 million, an increase of about one third from last year’s $150.8 during the same period. Most of the exports came from the sale of wheat and other grains, which were valued at $89.2 million and comprised 45 percent of all US exports to Iran, Reuters reports.

Dairy products and medical equipment have also continued to enter Iran, with sales of milk products more than doubling since last year. The sale of such goods is permitted with a Treasury Department export license.

But had the US stopped exporting wheat to Iran, exports would have declined overall.

American companies have also complained that it is difficult for them to get paid for their sales, since many of Iran’s largest banks have been blacklisted by the US for involvement in terrorism or the country’s nuclear program. Some Americans, especially religiously affiliated or non-profit groups, have argued that banking sanctions could prevent humanitarian trade.


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Iran denies role in Gulf cyber attacks [thenational]

TEHRAN // Iranian officials denied any role in recent cyberattacks against oil and gas companies in the Arabian Gulf and said they welcomed a probe of the case, a semi-official news agency reported yesterday.

Mahdi Akhavan Bahabadi, secretary of the National Center of Cyberspace, denounced as “politically motivated” US allegations of an Iranian link to the Shamoon virus that hit the Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco and the Qatari natural gas producer RasGas, according to remarks carried by ISNA.

“We interpret the issue politically and in light of US domestic issues as well as the [US presidential] election,” he said.

The virus can spread through networked computers and ultimately wipes out files by overwriting them. In the August attack it replaced them with images of burning American flags. The US defence secretary Leon Panetta said they rendered more than 30,000 computers useless, calling them probably the most destructive cyber-attacks the private sector has seen to date.

Last week a former US government official said American authorities believe that Iranian hackers, likely supported by the government, were responsible. US agencies have been assisting in the Gulf investigation and concluded that the level of resources needed to conduct the attack showed there was some degree of involvement by a nation state, said the former official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“American officials have said they are able to discover the source of the recent cyberattacks. We do welcome this and announce our readiness for any international cooperation to find the source of the attacks,” Mr Bahabadi said.


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EU approves tough round of sanctions on Iran [RT]

The EU has approved one of the toughest sets of sanctions yet on Iran’s nuclear program. It includes banning the import of Iranian natural gas into union nations.

The sanctions also include a ban on financial transactions between European and Iranian banks, with some exceptions for those involving humanitarian aid, food and medicine purchases.

The decision was made during Monday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

“The [EU] Council has agreed additional restrictive measures in the financial, trade, energy and transport sectors, as well as additional designations, notably of entities active in the oil and gas industry,” a written statement issued by the European Union council said.

Further export restrictions were imposed on industrial software, graphite, and the metals which the EU believes could be used to develop ballistic missiles. The new restrictions also prohibit eurozone companies from providing shipbuilding technology and classification services to Iranian tankers and cargo vessels.

The sanctions aim to pressure Iran to cooperate in talks regarding its nuclear program. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the new sanctions were a “sign of our resolve in the European Union that we will step up the pressure.”

And that pressure is expected to continue until Iran agrees to negotiations.


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Iran: Khamenei warns of government divisions [independent]

The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told officials yesterday to stop bickering about the country’s mounting economic problems and voiced concern at the collapse of the Iranian currency, the rial.

His comments touched on divisions between government agencies and political factions exacerbated by the rial’s fall in value over the past few weeks, fanning an atmosphere of crisis.

“The country’s officials should know and accept their responsibilities and not blame each other,” Mr Khamenei said in a televised speech in the north-eastern city of Bojnourd. “They should be united and sympathise with each other.”

The rial plunged by 35 per cent to a record low against the US dollar over the 10 days to 2 October, reflecting a decline in Iran’s oil income wrought by tightened sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme.

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Iran Low on Options as Hyperinflation Concerns Spark Gold Dash [Bloomberg]

Iran has few policy options to end turmoil in its currency markets, as the U.S. and allies seek to inflict enough economic pain to force the Islamic republic into concessions over its nuclear plans, analysts said.

The rial has depreciated as much as 40 percent against the dollar in street markets since August and gold purchases have surged as residents seek to shield savings. The currency plunge led to unrest in Tehran’s markets last week as police used tear gas to end protests. Iran has raised interest rates on deposits and opened an exchange center to stabilize the currency market.


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Iran, Iraq call for expansion of defense ties [tehrantimes]



TEHRAN – During a meeting in Baghdad on Wednesday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for the expansion of cooperation between the two countries in various areas, particularly in the area of defense.

Heading a high-ranking military delegation, Brigadier General Vahidi arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday at the invitation of his Iraqi counterpart Saadoun al-Dulaimi.
It is the first time that an Iranian defense minister has visited Iraq since the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979.
During the meeting, Maliki said that enhanced defense ties between Iran and Iraq will help promote peace in the region.
Vahidi stated that defense and security cooperation between the two countries is exemplary in the region.

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