Fartashphoto's Blog

CNN: Reporter gets prison in Iran

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 31, 2010

Why was a Newsweek reporter (Maziar Bahari) sentenced to an extra 6 months of prison time in Iran?

Because of a picture.

Iranians flee human rights abuses

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 31, 2010

 Iran’s human rights record has been criticised in a new report by Amnesty International.

It highlights what it describes as exceptionally high levels of violence, used in the aftermath of June’s disputed presidential election.

It says that human rights violations are as bad as at any time in the past 20 years,

Dirty Bomb

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 30, 2010

In order for a terrorist organization to construct and detonate a dirty bomb, they must acquire radioactive material (Low-enriched Uranium) by stealing it or buying it through legal or illegal channels. Possible RDD material could come from the millions of radioactive sources used worldwide in the industry, for medical purposes and in academic applications mainly for research. Dirty bombs would be constructed of conventional explosives and radioactive material, the detonation of which would result in the dispersion of the radioactive material contained in the bomb.

Since a dirty bomb is unlikely to cause many deaths, many do not consider this to be a weapon of mass destruction. Its purpose would presumably be to create psychological, not physical, harm through ignorance, mass panic, and terror. For this reason dirty bombs are sometimes called “weapons of mass disruption”.

Osama Bin Laden has made no secret of his ambition to join the nuclear club — he has even proclaimed it a “religious duty” for Muslim states to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to attack the West. But intelligence officials believe that the best he has managed to achieve, thus far, is a limited membership of that club, in the form of radioactive material that could be dispersed using conventional explosives — the so-called “dirty bomb.”

The situation in Georgia is made graver by the apparently strong possibility that al Qaeda may be present and active in the region.

The first attempt of radiological terror was carried out in November 1995 by a group of Chechen separatists, who buried a caesium-137 source wrapped in explosives at the Izmaylovsky Park in Moscow. A Chechen rebel leader alerted the media, the bomb was never activated, and the incident amounted to a mere publicity stunt.

In December 1998, a second attempt was announced by the Chechen Security Service, who discovered a container filled with radioactive materials attached to an explosive mine. The bomb was hidden near a railway line in the suburban area Argun, ten miles east of the Chechen capital of Grozny. The same Chechen separatist group was suspected to be involved.

In 2006, Dhiren Barot from North London pleaded guilty of conspiring to murder innocent people within the United Kingdom and United States using a radioactive dirty bomb. He planned to target underground car parks within the UK and buildings in the U.S. such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank buildings in Washington D.C., the New York Stock Exchange, Citigroup buildings and the Prudential Financial buildings in Newark, New Jersey. He also faces 12 other charges including, conspiracy to commit public nuisance, seven charges of making a record of information for terrorist purposes and four charges of possessing a record of information for terrorist purposes. Experts say if the plot to use the dirty bomb was carried out “it would have been unlikely to cause deaths, but was designed to affect about 500 people.”

In January 2009, a leaked FBI report described the results of a search of the Maine home of James G. Cummings, a white supremacist who had been shot and killed by his wife. Investigators found four one-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium as well as literature on how to build dirty bombs and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, radioactive materials. Officials confirmed the veracity of the report but stated that the public was never at risk.

In April 2009, the Security Service of Ukraine announced the arrest of a legislator and two businessmen from the Ternopil Oblast. Seized in the undercover sting operation was 3.7 kilograms of what was claimed by the suspects during the sale as plutonium-239, used mostly in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, but was determined by experts to likely be americium, a “widely used” radioactive material which is commonly used in amounts of less than 1 milligram in smoke detectors, but can also be used in a dirty bomb. The suspects reportedly wanted US$ 10 million for the material, which the Security Service determined was produced in Russia during the era of the Soviet Union and smuggled into Ukraine through a neighboring country.

The Tehran Research Reactor – Iran’s Ageing Nuclear Reactor

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 30, 2010

Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi was given exclusive access inside the facility. The Tehran Research Reactor is an ageing nuclear facility located in the heart of the Iranian capital. Built by the United States as a nuclear research facility 40 years ago.

Former CIA Spy Speaks Out

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 29, 2010

CBS News’ Kimberly Dozier speaks with Robert Baer, who recounts his unique experiences as a CIA operative and discusses the future state of diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran.

The clock is ticking …

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 28, 2010

UN report: Iran, Syria receiving North Korea nuclear technology, Report says Pyongyang continue to provide missiles, components to Iran as well as aiding Syria’s nuclear despite UN sanctions.

North Korea is exporting nuclear and ballistic missile technology and using multiple intermediaries, shell companies and overseas criminal networks to circumvent U.N. sanctions, UN experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press.

The seven-member panel monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea said its research indicates that Pyongyang is involved in banned nuclear and ballistic activities in Iran, Syria and Myanmar. It called for further study of these suspected activities and urged all countries to try to prevent them.

The 47-page report, obtained late Thursday by AP, and a lengthy annex document sanctions violations reported by U.N. member states, including four cases involving arms exports and two seizures of luxury goods by Italy – two yachts and high-end recording and video equipment.

 For more than a decade, Israel and the United States has been concerned that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program through clandestine activities as well as under the guise of peaceful enrichment for civilian nuclear power.

Experts such as David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, have underscored that the timeline for Iran’s acquisition of sufficient HEU to build a nuclear bomb is ominously short—it ranges from only six months to two years. For the delivery technology they’re not going to have any problem because Iran has very active missile and WMD development programs, and is seeking foreign missile, nuclear, chemical, and biological technologies.

 Look at the clock, it’s ticking and the Centrifuges are spinning every second, every minute they’re closer to the breakthrough moment.

Face for Freedom in Iran – Kiel 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 28, 2010

 Amnesty International — Face for Freedom in Iran at Kiel / Asta Open Air 2010

Another blind alley

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 27, 2010

“It is technically impossible since the Iranians want the fuel to be made within a year but it will take at least one and a half years,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

Iran today has about 4,850 pounds of low-enriched uranium. Under the May 17 deal, it has supposedly agreed to send some 2,640 pounds from its stockpile to Turkey for conversion into the type of nuclear fuel needed to power Tehran’s medical reactor — a fuel that cannot be used for a bomb. But that would still leave Iran with a roughly 2,200-pound uranium stockpile, which it still refuses to put under international inspection and is free to augment and continue to reprocess to the higher levels needed for a bomb. Experts say it would only take months for Iran to again amass sufficient quantity for a nuclear weapon.

As Abbas Milani, an Iran expert at Stanford University, put it to me: “The only long-term solution to the impasse is for a more democratic, responsible, transparent regime in Tehran. It has been, in my view, a great con game successfully played by the clerical regime to make the nuclear issue the almost sole focal point of its relations with the U.S. and the West. The West should have always followed a two-track policy: earnest negotiations on the nuclear issue and no less earnest discussion on the issues of human rights and democracy in Iran.”

Iran and Russia clashed on Wednesday over Kremlin support for draft U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic, in one of the worst rows between the two powers since the Cold War.

“Moscow has repeatedly saved Iran from very tough sanctions, so Ahmadinejad’s defiance is quite frankly out of place,” Pyotr Goncharov, a Moscow-based specialist on the Gulf, told Reuters.

“It is simply the latest attempt by the Iranian president to lay the blame for his own problems at someone else’s door.”

Thanks to Khan

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 26, 2010

It would be easy for Iran to develop a fuel cycle legitimately and then pull out of the treaty by giving ninety days notice.

Once this has happened, enrichment plants could be quickly converted from producing low-enriched uranium for reactors to highly-enriched uranium for bombs by rearranging the cascades – a so-called “breakout capacity.” A stockpile of low-enriched fuel could be legitimately built up and then fed into centrifuges, reducing the amount of time required to produce weapons material by a factor of five. This may be the most attractive option for Tehran since it is technically legal and provides more diplomatic room for maneuvering than rushing headlong toward a bomb with all the consequences that this may cause. Retaining a nuclear weapons option just short of the bomb is a route that a number of other countries around the world have decided upon, although another possibility is the Israeli path of developing and deploying weapons but not say so openly, retaining a level of diplomatic ambiguity.

Another option that analysts believe Iran could be pursing is creating a secret parallel program, for so-called “sneak out” capacity. A large declared facility makes it much easier to run a parallel undeclared facility since it provides cover for research and procurement activities. The fear is that Iran may have pursued such an option based around the P-2 information and possibly material it received from Khan.

Thanks to Khan’s help and Iran’s skill at working around the gaps in the non-proliferation regime, Tehran has managed to travel a long way down the path, but just how far is unclear.

The One About Iran

Posted in Uncategorized by fartashphoto on May 25, 2010

A satirical view of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, human rights record and attitudes to terrorism, from No Laughing Matter.