Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency have announced an agreement on inspections of the under-construction Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor.
The announcement came during a three-day visit by an IAEA team, led by Deputy Head of Safeguards Massimo Aparo, to look at uranium mines and processing plants. It follows agreed plans in November and February for inspections of enrichment facilities and mines.
Arak is one of the central issues in discussions between Iran and the 5+1 Powers on a comprehensive nuclear agreement, with talks resuming on May 13 in Vienna.
The US and European countries have claimed that the plutonium by-product from Arak can be used in a militarized nuclear program.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has said in recent weeks that Arak could be “re-designed” to reduce the plutonium by-product by 80%. He also indicated that Arak’s on-line date could be postponed from the end of 2014 to “two, three years from now”.
Iran says the Arak reactor will gradually replace the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical radioisotopes for cancer patients.
Revolutionary Guards: “We Can Sink US Warships in 50 Seconds”
In their latest proclamation of strength, the Revolutionary Guards have announced that they can sink American warships in less than a minute.
Ali Fadavi, the head of the Guards’ naval forces, said, “They (Americans) know nothing. We have been making and sinking replicas of US destroyers, frigates and warships for long years, and we have sunk the replica of their vessels in 50 seconds through a series of operational measures.”
Fadavi said that a model of a US aircraft carrier — previously declared by Iranian media to be used in a film about the 1988 downing of an Iranian airliner by an American warship — was being used in exercises to prove the might of the Guards’ navy: “We practice the drills on replica aircraft carriers because sinking and destroying US warships has, is and will be on our agenda.”
Supporting his claims, he declared that Iran is “one of the only two world military forces equipped with a unique torpedo which moves with unbelievable velocity”.
Rafsanjani Continues Push for Rapprochement with Saudi Arabia
Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Rouhani Government’s lead in promotion of rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, continued his efforts on Monday.
Rafsanjani, the head of the Expediency Council, said to an Italian Parliamentary delegation, “Considering the regional and Islamic commonalities and the past practical experiences in thawing ties, the solution for the issues (between) the two countries is very easy.”
President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been pursuing engagement with Gulf States since last summer through a series of meetings in Tehran and the Gulf, but so far have been unable to arrange a visit to Riyadh.
Rafsanjani has been the back-channel in discussions with Saudi officials, as well as promoting ties through events such as last week’s meeting with the Saudi Ambassador in Tehran.
By EA WorldView
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