Iran Building Two New Nuclear Plants

Iranian leaders announced on Monday the construction of two new nuclear plants, and it remains unclear if the Trump administration views this as crossing a red line since its abandonment of the landmark nuclear deal, which included provisions permitting Iran to work on heavy water nuclear reactors that could provide a plutonium-based pathway to a bomb.

On the same day it announced these new nuclear reactors, which are being built in conjunction with Russia, Iran announced it would be filing papers accusing the United States of “crimes against humanity.”

The new nuclear moves are rattling congressional Iran hawks, who have been critical of a series of waivers issued by the Trump administration permitting Iran to continue engaging in nuclear research, including at an underground site that once housed the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

It remains unclear if the Trump administration will move to block this activity and sanction any international company that aids Iran in the construction of the new nuclear reactors.

“If the State Department is even considering waivers for Iran to expand its nuclear program, if those are even a little bit in play, you have to ask yourself what else is already a done deal and why that isn’t public yet,” one veteran Republican official, reflecting the views of many Iran hawks, told the Washington Free Beacon.

“You also have to ask yourself if the State Department knows that Republicans won the last presidential election or whether we’re all just going to pretend it’s Obama’s third term and the Iran deal is still in place,” the source said.

Ali Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced on Monday that construction of the two new nuclear plants have begun in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr.

“Everything is moving ahead in an excellent manner,” Salehi was quoted as saying in the country’s state-controlled press. “I was in Bushehr two or three days ago and the Bushehr 2 and Bushehr 3 power plants are being constructed.”

The State Department would not respond to questions about its policy on Iran’s nuclear construction.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Monday that Iran had begun filing paperwork accusing the United States of “crimes against humanity” for its reimposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran.

“The presidential office’s legal department, the justice minister, and foreign minister are required to compile a bill of complaint on crime against humanity against the Americans and those who were involved in sanctions and implementation of sanctions so that we can take it to a competent court for prosecution,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

“The world should know that the U.S. move [sanctions] is not aimed at the Iranian government and nuclear technology but it is against the Iranian people’s health, environment, ordinary life, foodstuff and medicine,” Rouhani said.

However, it is the nuclear reactors that are eliciting outrage within the Trump administration and on Capitol Hill.

The news comes amid an ongoing inter-agency battle over how far to go in sanctioning Iran and its illicit activities. Some elements of the Trump administration are angling to keep issuing waivers to permit Iran’s nuclear work, as well as its production of lucrative crude oil.

The debate has been raging inside the administration for months, with some hardline officials expressing frustration at some colleagues for seeking to preserve the nuclear deal and keep it on life support, despite President Donald Trump’s vocal commitment to a policy he describes as “maximum pressure.”

Some administration officials in the State Department have made clear that these various waivers exempting countries from sanctions are necessary to preserve the framework of the Iran nuclear deal.

“Even as we have been systematically re-imposing sanctions related to Iran in pursuit of the better, ‘win-win’ deal of which I speak, we have carefully refrained from restoring sanctions in such a way as to obstruct international cooperation with Iran on a number of projects contemplated under the JCPOA that provide Iran opportunities to benefit from nuclear technology in ways not raising proliferation risks,” Chris Ford, assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, said in December in comments that rankled some Iran hawks.

“To accomplish this, the secretary of state waived the imposition of certain sanctions to the extent necessary to enable specified nonproliferation activities involving Iran,” Ford explained.


US Gives Russia 60 Days to Comply With Nuclear Treaty

The United States delivered Russia a 60-day ultimatum on Tuesday to come clean about what Washington says is a violation of a arms control treaty that keeps missiles out of Europe, saying only Moscow could save the pact.

NATO allies led by Germany pressed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting in Brussels to give diplomacy a final push before Washington pulls out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, fearing a new arms race in Europe.

“Russia has a last chance to show in a verifiable way that they comply with the treaty … but we also have to start to prepare for the fact that this treaty may break down,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

Read more


Iran Had Secret Plans to Build Five Nuclear Warheads

A new bombshell report based on a secret trove of seized Iranian nuclear documents shows the Islamic Republic had concrete plans to manufacture and build at least five nuclear weapons and that it was much further along in this scheme than previously known by the international community.

Iran’s contested nuclear weapons program was much further along than the international community thought, according to a report based on scores of secret Iranian plans seized by Israel and publicly disclosed for the first time earlier this year.

Information obtained in this raid on Iran’s secretive nuclear files has revealed that Tehran was well along the path to building several nuclear weapons by around 2003, including the complex infrastructure needed to produce such weapons, according to a new report from the Institute for Science and International Society, a nuclear watchdog group that has exposed in the past the extent of Iran’s nuclear works.

The report is being viewed as a bombshell revelation on Capitol Hill and is seen as validating critics of the Obama administration who alleged the former White House has underestimated the extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons progress.

“Iran intended to build five nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons and able to be delivered by ballistic missile,” the group disclosed in a new report that shows Iran has retained much of its nuclear infrastructure and could continue using it to clandestinely conduct weapons work in violation of the landmark nuclear accord.

“Iran’s initial plans show that it had achieved much more than feasibility and scientific studies relating to nuclear weapons, as the IAEA assessed in late 2015, as the Iran nuclear deal was being implemented,” according to the group, which based its report on access it was granted to the seized Iranian nuclear documents, which show the regime allocated millions of dollars to the purchase of nuclear materials, including uranium, the key component in a bomb.

“Iran had put in place by the end of 2003 the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear weapons program,” according to the report. “The evidence supports that Iran was preparing to conduct an underground test of a nuclear weapon, if necessary. The end goal was to have tested, deliverable nuclear weapons, and Iran made more progress toward that goal than known before the seizure of the archives.”

Iran hawks on Capitol Hill say the report confirms warnings from many that the Obama administration downplayed Iran’s nuclear activities in a bid to ink the nuclear pact with Iran.

“Republicans have long known that the Obama administration lied to the country about the Iran deal,” said one senior Republican congressional official familiar with the report. “Just a few months ago PSI published documents showing they lied to Congress about enforcing sanctions and giving dollar access.”

The latest disclosures are fueling the push in Congress for the Trump administration to reimpose greater economic sanctions on Iran, a portion of which went back into effect earlier this month. Some in Congress have called on the Trump administration to go further in its actions, including by fully cutting off Iran’s oil exports and access to international financial markets.

“Now this report shows they also lied about Iran’s nuclear weapons work,” the source said. “You can expect congressional Republicans to increase pressure on the Trump administration to implement maximum pressure on Iran, which they still aren’t doing.”

Iran was poised to construct at least five nuclear warheads based on its weapons work at the time, according to the new report, which also found that Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure was far more sophisticated than previously believed.

“Iran made far more progress toward its goal of manufacturing five nuclear weapons than known before the seizure of the archives,” according to the watchdog group.

Information about Iran’s nuclear activities, although far less complete, was kept hidden from the public as the Obama administration pressed the international community to support the nuclear agreement.

“It must be acknowledged that at that time, the IAEA and the JCPOA parties, appeared to be downplaying the Iranian nuclear weapons program so as not to stand in the way of starting the implementation of the JCPOA in January 2016,” the report found, noting that international nuclear inspectors have yet to take a stance on the new information.

“Today, the IAEA has in its possession much of the content from the Iranian archive; it should be expected to act on this information, something that is not yet visible, after six months of examining the new information.

This nuclear infrastructure remains intact, further fueling concerns about what Iran has been hiding from nuclear inspectors, who must give Iran advance notice of any inspections and refrain from entering the country’s contested military sites.

“The continued existence of the Iranian nuclear archive and warehouse reinforces that the Iranian nuclear program’s remains, and likely some activities, may have continued up to today,” the group said.


State Dept: Kim Invites Inspectors to Confirm Dismantling of Nuclear Test Site

Earlier in the day, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said the official and North Korean leader agreed to create a joint working group to discuss in the near future the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and another possible North Korean-US summit.

US State Department announced that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has invited inspectors to pay a visit to the Punggye-Ri nuclear test base to provide confirmation of irrevocable dismantlement.

Earlier on Saturday, Mike Pompeo held a meeting with Kim Jong-un during his visit to Pyongyang, which the secretary considered “good”, as it led to an agreement to develop a joint working group for discussing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the new North Korean-US summit.

According to earlier reports published in May, North Korea’s Defense Ministry blew up three tests mines at the Punggye-Ri nuclear test site, also destroying security checkpoints and other facilities.

In late April, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced the shutdown of the Punggye-ri site during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. However, Korean relations, which had improved dramatically since the beginning of the year, entered a new period of uncertainty as the United States and South Korea resumed military drills near North Korea’s shores. Pyongyang has objected to the military exercises, which it sees as a threat.


Massive Russian-Chinese Joint War Games Will Feature Nuclear Exercises

Over the past half year the West has increasingly taken note of the significantly heightened pace of both Chinese and Russian military spending and surprising leaps forward in terms defense tech advances.

Even when Chinese or Russian systems fail, as with recent news of a nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by Putin as having “unlimited range” but now apparently lost at the bottom of the sea, Western press takes notice, and a number of Pentagon officials have also warned especially of rapidly advancing Chinese systems.

Increasingly, the two powers are cooperating more directly as with Russia’s upcoming military games, said to be the largest such exercise since the Soviet Union, where China is set to participate by sending a mass contingency of elite troops.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will participate by sending about 3,200 elite forces troops, along with 30 fix-wing aircraft and helicopters to the Russian-hosted exercises.


Putin Unveils Underwater Nuclear Tsunami Drone – 330 ft waves

“Taking advantage of the rising-sea-floor amplification effect, tsunami waves reaching 100 meters [330 feet] in height are possible.”

The project of developing the Poseidon drone was unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly on March 1.

The Russian leader said that these drones could be armed with both conventional and nuclear munitions and would be capable of destroying enemy infrastructure, carrier-led naval forces and other objectives.


North Korea threatens to cancel Trump’s nuclear summit

President Trump ignored reporters asking for an update twice on Tuesday as he came and went from the White House to Walter Reed hospital, where his wife was recovering from a benign kidney surgery.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency had earlier reported that Pyongyang also canceled high-level talks with Seoul, scheduled for later in the day.

The North Koreans cited the military drills as the reason.

The meeting was to happen in the border town of Panmunjom, as a followup to Kim’s April meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-In.

The Trump administration has appeared to be making progress in recent weeks toward a new diplomatic framework with the hermit kingdom.

Tempers had cooled following months of belligerence on both sides – Trump called Kim ‘Little Rocket Man’ and Kim responded by branding him a ‘mentally deranged U.S. dotard.’

Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang on a mission to retrieve three Americans held prisoner in the communist nation.

He returned a day later with Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Tony Kim on board his government jet. Trump, eager to reap the PR benefit of a public splash, went to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland at 2:00 in the morning to greet them personally.

The prisoner release was seen as a first step toward the planned summit, which Trump announced last week would take place June 12 in Singapore.

The North Korean statement got a jump on the U.S State Department


Iran nuclear deal: Anger in Tehran, shouts of ‘death to America’

During the demonstration in parliament, lawmakers held up the flaming U.S. flag as their fellow parliamentarians joined in anti-American chants. They also burned a piece of paper representing the nuclear deal and stomped on the papers’ ashes. Larijani, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency, said Trump lacked “mental capacity.”

European diplomats meanwhile insisted that the 2015 accord would not suddenly collapse despite the U.S.’s withdrawal. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the European Union’s representative to China said Wednesday during a press briefing in Beijing that the EU strongly believes “that this is an agreement which belongs to the international community. This is not an agreement that will fall apart if you just walk away.”

France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French radio that the deal “wasn’t dead yet” and that European countries would hold talks over how to keep it alive.

Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia were all signatories to the 2015 accord under which Iran pledged to limit its stockpile of enriched uranium for 15 years and its number of centrifuges for 10 years. Both are needed to make nuclear weapons. The EU, U.S. and United Nations lifted economic sanctions as part of the deal.


Trump declares US leaving ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear accord

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, abruptly restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency. He declared he was making the world safer, but he also deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility.

The 2015 agreement, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and included Germany, France and Britain, had lifted most U.S. and international economic sanctions against Iran. In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.

But Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his presidential campaign, said in a televised address from the White House that it was “defective at its core.”

U.S. allies in Europe had tried to keep him in and lamented his move to abandon it. Iran’s leader ominously warned his country might “start enriching uranium more than before.”

The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals.


Kim Prepared to Cede Nuclear Weapons if U.S. Pledges Not to Invade

Keeping diplomatic developments coming at a head-snapping pace, the South Korean government said on Sunday that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had told President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country.

In a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting with President Trump, a suddenly loquacious and conciliatory Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country’s only known underground nuclear test site.

In Washington, Trump officials spoke cautiously about the chances of reaching a deal and laid out a plan for the rapid dismantling of the North’s nuclear program, perhaps over a two-year period.

That would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification,” said John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser.