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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