LATEST: Iran and 5+1 Powers Set Expert Nuclear Talks for October 30-31
SUMMARY: A report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Ahmed Shaheed, claims, “The human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to warrant serious concern, with no sign of improvement in the areas previously raised by the general assembly or the various human rights monitoring mechanisms.”
Shaheed condemned the high number of executions this year and restrictions on freedom of speech, especially on-line.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded that the report “describes the human rights situation in Iran in a completely unfair light and with political motivations”.
Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Tehran will not allow “such prejudiced reports to become the judging standard of its human rights situation”.
Shaheed has not been allowed into Iran since he was appointed in 2011, so he has relied on testimony by phone from inside the country as well as statements by Iranians in exile, activists, and human rights groups.
Afkham maintained the ban on Shaheed on Thursday, “Iran considers the appointment of a special human rights rapporteur an insult to the great Iranian nation, and thus does not recognise it.”
She said Shaheed relied on “sources from terrorist and violent groups”.
Iran’s UN mission added its criticism, “[The report] has not paid sufficient notice to Iran’s legal system and Islamic culture and considers whatever [Shaheed] sees in the West as an international standard for the entire world.”
It continued, “The report is a product of a non objective and counter-productive exercise initiated by a group of countries with specific political claim against Iran…a catalogue of poorly resourced and outdated allegations”.
Latest Updates, Most Recent First
Iran and 5+1 Powers Set Expert Nuclear Talks for October 30-31
Tehran and the 5+1 Powers have scheduled expert discussions on October 30-31 to discuss the possible lines of a preliminary agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
The talks on technical details and sanctions will be followed by another round of high-level negotiations, following last week’s successful resumption of discussions, in Geneva on November 7-8.
Protest in Iran Against “US Deception and Racism”
Not everyone in Iran is happy with engagement with America, including in nuclear talks — there was a march in Tehran for “The Friday of USA’s Apology Due to Deception and Racism“.
US Institute Releases Another Scare Report on Iran Nuclear Program
The Institute for Science and International Security has released another one of its periodic reports on the threat of Iran’s nuclear program — conveniently timed to challenge the positive turn in negotiations between Tehran and the 5+1 Powers.
The report on “Iranian Breakout Estimates” puts out the provocative claim that Iran could “break out in as little as approximately one to two weeks” to weapons-grade uranium.
The fright from that teaser is only reduced when one realises that the report is based on omission of key facts — such as the current state of Iran’s centrifuges — exaggeration of others, and dubious assumptions. For example, with no evidence, ISIS builds its estimate on the assumption of “a covert [nuclear] plant”.
In fact, the report is designed more for politics than science: it is calling for the permanent shutdown of Iran’s second uranium enrichment plant at Fordoo and for a ban on use of the IR-2m centrifuges, which are being intalled — but are not yet operational — to replaced the 40-year-old IR-1 model.
CNN is untroubled by any of this analysis, however. It proclaims, “Nuclear Group: Time Iran Would Need to Make Uranium for a Bomb ‘Too Short’“.
Civil Rights Activist Released on Bail
The political prisoner and civil rights activist Pejman Zafarmand has been released on bail.
Zafarman was given a 3-year prison sentence on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” in May.
Senior US Official: Washington “Not Contemplating” Removing Sanctions “At Front End” of Negotiations
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Obama, cautioned on Thursday that Washington is “not contemplating” the removal of sanctions “at the front end” of negotiations with Tehran.
“We are not contemplating anything that removes those sanctions at the front end of any negotiation or agreement, because it’s going to be important to test Iranian intentions,” Rhodes said.
“Before we could pursue sanctions relief, we’d have to see concrete steps by the Iranians to get at the state of their nuclear program,” he added, speaking at the Reuters Washington Summit.
Commenting on the recent negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations regarding Tehran’s nuclear programme, Rhodes said “We continue to want to have that flexibility to pursue this diplomatic track. There’s an opening that we want to test.”
Rhodes also warned that progress in negotiations “doesn’t mean that Congress won’t consider new sanctions. It means that as they do, they should take into account the progress we’re making on diplomacy, and that we need to have some flexibility to pursue an agreement.”
Iran Biggest Oil Supplier to China in September
Iran was the largest supplier of fuel oil to China in September, according to data released by China’s General Administration of Customs.
Tehran shipped 410,867mln tons (mt) of fuel oil to China last month.
China also imported 475,521 barrels per day (bpd) from Tehran in september (a 24% rise from the previous year), making it the biggest purchaser of Iranian oil.
China has bought 16.01 mt of Iranian crude oil in 2013 up until the end of September, or an average of 428,160 bpd. Trade between Iran and China in the past year was estimated at $45bln, according to Fars News.
MPs: Recognition of Tehran’s Enrichment Rights “Confidence-Building Step” and “Red Line”
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, has said that recognition of Tehran’s nuclear rights is the first confidence-building step needed for future agreements.
Speaking to two visiting French senators, Boroujerdi said “The recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right to acquire peaceful nuclear energy forms the basis for any agreement with the P5+1.”
Meanwhile, Mansour Haqiqatpour, the Commission’s vice-chairman, reiterated that uranium enrichment is one of Tehran’s “red lines.”
Haqiqatpour said, “We consider uranium enrichment our inalienable right and will under no condition back down from it.”
He added, “We are not going to back off from this issue (uranium enrichment) which serves as an achievement for us.”