US, Europe to ´demand´ Iran close nuclear facility (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 04/07/12)
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The United States and its European allies plan to demand the
immediate closing by Iran and ultimate dismantling of a recently
completed underground nuclear facility near the city of Qum, The New
York Times reported.
Citing unnamed US and European diplomats, the newspaper said the
allies will also call at upcoming negotiations for a halt in the
production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from
bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out
of the country.
Iran last held talks with the six powers -- Britain, China, France,
Germany, Russia and the United States -- in January 2011 with no
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said the new talks would
open April 13 in Istanbul. But Iran later said that Turkey was not an
acceptable host after the NATO member cut oil imports from Tehran in
response to US pressure.
The new demands will be the opening move in what President Barack
Obama has called Iran´s "last chance" to resolve its nuclear
confrontation with the United Nations and the West diplomatically,
the report said.
The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran
because of suspicions over its nuclear program, which the West and
Israel believe includes a drive to develop atomic weapons capability.
Some experts fear the tough conditions being set could instead swing
the debate in favor of Iran´s hard-liners, according to The Times.
"We have no idea how the Iranians will react," the paper quoted one
senior administration official as saying. "We probably won´t know
after the first meeting."
In a related story The Washington Post reported late Saturday. that a
stealth surveillance drone operated by the CIA penetrated deep inside
Iran over three years ago, snapped images of Iran´s secret nuclear
facility at Qum and returned home.
CIA stealth drones scoured dozens of sites throughout Iran, making
hundreds of passes over suspicious facilities, before a version of
the RQ-170 drone crashed inside Iran´s borders in December, the
The surveillance has been part of an intelligence surge that is aimed
at Iran´s nuclear program and that has been gaining momentum since
the final years of George W. Bush´s administration, The Post noted.
The effort has included eavesdropping by the National Security
Agency, the formation of an Iran task force among satellite-imagery
analysts, as well as an expanded network of spies, the paper added.
The expanded intelligence collection has reinforced the view within
the White House that it will have early warning of any move by Iran
to assemble a nuclear bomb, the report said.
According to the paper, the expanded intelligence effort has
coincided with a covert campaign by the CIA and other agencies to
sabotage Iran´s nuclear program.
The administration of President Barack Obama has cited new
intelligence reports in arguing against a preemptive military strike
by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities. (Copyright © 2012
Agence France Presse. 04/07/12)
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