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Iran set to construct ten new enrichment plants

Iran set to construct ten new enrichment plants

Sun, 29 Nov 2009 15:55:26 GMT
Days after a new resolution by the UN nuclear watchdog called on Iran to halt the construction of its Fordo enrichment plant, the Iranian government tasks the Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) with building ten more nuclear enrichment sites.

According to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the AEO should begin the construction of five of the requested enrichment facilities over the next two months.

Upon the Iranian government’s request, the organization should also propose locations for the remaining five enrichment plants within a two-month period.

According to the report published on the Iranian president’s website, the request for the construction of the new sites comes as the Iranian government is expected to provide the country’s power plants with 20,000 megawatts of electricity for domestic use.

The decision, which was made during a Sunday cabinet meeting, comes as President Ahmadinejad argued that the country is in need of 500,000 centrifuges for generating the cited amount of electricity.

The requested nuclear sites are expected to be as large as Iran’s enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz.

The announcement by Iran comes as earlier in the week six world powers drafted a resolution at the UN nuclear watchdog against Iran’s nuclear work.

The draft, backed by the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China, was presented at the year-end meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors.

The IAEA passed the resolution which called on Iran to stop all construction work at Fordo and confirm there are no more nuclear sites that the agency must be aware of.

Iran says the demand to stop construction at Fordo is not within the framework of its legal obligations.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have rejected the notion that the newly-adopted resolution is much stronger than the previous ones, arguing that the past resolutions called for a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program while the latest resolution seeks to pressure Iran into abandoning construction at the Fordo plant.

What a show off! The multi-coloured ‘peacock’ spider that reveals a spectrum of shades to attract a mate | Mail Online

What a show off! The multi-coloured ‘peacock’ spider that reveals a spectrum of shades to attract a mate

By Sara Mccorquodale

When we think of spiders, us Brits tends to imagine the black and brown creatures that thrive in dry corners and give us a fright when we least expect it.

Australians, the other hand, are privy to much more exciting sights, as these pictures of the ‘peacock spider’ prove.

While it may be eight-legged like every other spider, this one has an impressive mating ritual to attract a partner.


Show off: The peacock spider raises to colourful flaps at the back of his body to attract a brown female

It shows off a rainbow of colours to impress nearby females by fanning out two brightly patterned flaps at the back of his body.

Displaying its spectrum of shades in an attempt to attract the attention of the less vibrant brown spiders, the creature reveals hues of orange, yellow, green and blue.

Also known as a Moratus Vilans, amateur photographer Jurgen Otto originally spotted the colourful creature in the wild.

However, as it is only 4mm long, he found it easier to capture images in his Sydney home.


Small but perfectly formed: The colourful creature is only 4mm long

Read more:

Iranian lawmaker: Iran could leave nuclear treaty – Yahoo News

Iranian lawmaker: Iran could leave nuclear treaty

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran – A conservative Iranian legislator warned Saturday that his country may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty after a U.N. resolution censuring Tehran — a move that could seriously undermine world attempts to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.

Iran’s official news agency quoted a hardline political analyst who made the same point, another indication the idea could be gaining steam.

If Iran withdraws from the treaty, its nuclear program would no longer be subject to oversight by the U.N. nuclear agency. That in turn would be a significant blow to efforts to ensure that no enriched uranium is diverted from use as fuel to warhead development.

The lawmaker’s threat came a day after the board of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution demanding Tehran immediately stop building its newly revealed nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze uranium enrichment.

“The parliament, in its first reaction to this illegal and politically-motivated resolution, can consider the issue of withdrawing from the NPT,” Mohammad Karamirad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency, referring to the treaty. “The parliament … (also) can block the entry of IAEA inspectors to the country.”

Karamirad, a senior lawmaker and member of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, does not speak for the government but his statements often reflect the government’s thinking. His threat could be a tactic to warn the West of possible consequences if it pursues further action against Iran, such as strengthened sanctions.

Another hardline lawmaker, Hossein Ebrahimi, was quoted by IRNA as saying that Iran’s parliament will discuss the IAEA resolution on Sunday and will make a decision on how to react.

Iran’s parliament has issued similar warnings in the past, most recently in 2006 when some lawmakers threatened to pull the country out of the nonproliferation treaty during another time of increased U.N. pressure over Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran backed down, and the government has said that it has no intention of withdrawing from the treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

Iran’s government insists its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes, though the U.S. and other Western nations suspect Tehran is seeking to acquire atomic weapons.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the U.N. nuclear agency, was also defiant Saturday in the face of the agency’s fresh demands, saying on state television that Iran will limit its cooperation with the U.N. watchdog to its treaty obligations and will not cooperate beyond that.

“Our first reaction to this resolution is that they (the U.N. agency) should not expect us to do what we did several times in the past few months when we cooperated beyond our obligations to remove ambiguities,” Soltanieh said.

He added that the country’s nuclear activities will not be interrupted by resolutions from the U.N. nuclear agency’s board, the U.N. Security Council or even the threat of military strikes against the facilities.

Ali Shirzadian, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said his agency his ready to proceed with its nuclear projects.

“Technically speaking, we are fully prepared to produce fuel required for the Tehran reactor. To begin this, we are waiting for the order from top authorities,” Shirzadian told the government-run Borna news agency.

Friday’s resolution — and the resulting vote of the IAEA’s 35-nation decision-making board — were significant on several counts.

The resolution was approved by 25 members of the 35-nation board — including the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — marking a rare measure of unity from the six world powers on Iran.

Moscow and Beijing have traditionally cautioned against efforts to punish Iran for its defiance over its nuclear program, either preventing new Security Council sanctions or watering down their potency.

The IAEA resolution criticized Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment — the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.

It also censured Iran for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility, known as Fordo, and demanded that it immediately suspend further construction.

The resolution noted that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei cannot confirm that Tehran’s nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed “serious concern” that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means “the possibility of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program” cannot be excluded.

The Iranian news agency also quoted hardline political analyst Mahdi Mohammadi as saying that the U.N. agency’s resolution was forcing Iran to reconsider its membership in the nonproliferation treaty.

“The attitude of the agency is gradually bringing Iran and the rest of the developing nations to the conclusion that membership in NPT has no benefit but damage and restriction. In this case, the question that will be raised seriously is will continuation of this path serve Iran’s national interests?” IRNA quoted him as saying.

FRONTLINE: Tehran Bureau: Metro-Sexual | PBS



22 Nov 2009 01:166 Comments

The Ease of Being Metro-Sexual in Tehran’s Underground.

2337792232_29fb75f4fd.jpg[ dispatch ] The cellphone has become the ultimate arbiter of social class in Iran, replacing the car. A majority of Iranians do not own a car, but a majority of Iranians do own a personal cellphone, which makes the all important pursuit of conspicuous consumption in the Islamic Republic much easier than before. As much as Iranians complain about their perceived backwardness, the entry of cheap East Asian cellphones into the Iran market over the last few years has put them on the vanguard of new forms of social communication — one of which is probably not seen too much in the West. I am referring here to the phenomenon of Bluetooth “sexting.” (If you are an easily offended diaspora Iranian pining in nostalgia for the homeland, please click away now.)

Cellphones became the conduit in the late Khatami period for a favorite pastime in Iran — telling jokes. As in any country with a heavy-handed state, political jokes tended to be most common, followed only by the usual comic fare of the world: ethnic jokes (A Turk, a Lur, and a Kurd walk into a mosque…). Soviet jokes were eagerly collected by U.S. intelligence, as were GDR jokes by the West Germans, and the confidential compilations of these were handed to bemused diplomats of the West on a regular basis because of their insight into life under “actually existing socialism.” During what we might call Iran’s “Brezhnev” era — the apathetic times of the post-Khatami years that hopefully came to an end in 2009 — you could not leave your cellphone on without getting sent a joke as part of some form of mass SMS mailing. When President Ahmadinejad visited Baghdad, he returned and declared that he narrowly missed kidnapping by the West’s dark machinations. A cellphone joke told me forthwith that this had occurred because the West was trying to capture the “most handsome man in the world.”

Heavy-handed as it tends to be, the Iranian government began sending “friendly” messages to cellphone users a few years back, some benign but others not so much. This is a practice which continues to this day; I heard a story that one individual who attempted to send out an SMS from the protest area of Tehran during the November 4 protests returned home and received an SMS from the government warning not to take part in such disobedience again. Iranians are therefore much more wary of what they send to each other over government-affiliated satellites. Given that a Revolutionary Guard-linked conglomerate will soon be managing (or perhaps mangling) Iran’s telecommunications, I doubt that Iranians will feel at ease communicating over any form of cellphone medium for some time. Except for one, at least.

Most new phones in Iran, even the one I recently bought for around 80 dollars, come with Bluetooth wireless protocol. Like on your computer, where a mouse or a keyboard can connect wirelessly to your monitor with Bluetooth, two cellphones can also send information to each other using this method. However, because Bluetooth turns your phone into a small digital wireless transmitter, no satellites are required. Instead, one can “hunt” for nearby cellphones who also have enabled their Bluetooth to receive wireless information. The maximum range is around 20-50 meters, and connections between two phones are secure and cannot easily be intercepted… which means that some naughty things are bound to happen on them.

I had heard that Bluetooth was being used to send sexually related matter from phone to phone in the Tehran metro. This seems a highly innovative thing to do, since the metro is crowded with hundreds of people in peak hours, and males and females are mostly separated into separate train cars. Therefore sex messaging is as anonymous as one wants it to be. Given that everyone on the metro is constantly poking at their cellphones, one could never know who was the source of an erotic “sext.” Solely in the name of science, one day I decided to turn on my Bluetooth and see what happened on my daily metro trip.

I don’t think I had even given my phone a “male” name before I was solicited to “receive data” from a certain Maryam. I agreed, and downloaded a picture of a sparkly neon letter “M.” Cute, I thought. Maybe this sexting talk was just another tall tale of ribald and Bacchanalian Tehrani youth. A few minutes later, though, some other solicitor asked permission to send a package. This time, it was a photoshopped picture of a buxom Iranian woman’s face, in the passenger seat of an SUV, with her hejab still on, pouting her lips at the camera and superimposed text exclamating that I should call her for a good time. I do not think the number on the picture was the number of the phone that sent me the message; it was more likely the Iranian equivalent of the bathroom stall limerick above your ex-girlfriend’s number scrawled with a pen knife.

This all seemed harmless enough. I put off science for a few weeks until I again became curious if it was that easy to get metro-sexted. In a rush hour train, with sack-hauling workaday types squeezing me into a cranny (the metro service has been worsening lately due to underfunding by the government), I turned my Bluetooth back on. Soon thereafter my phone was asking me if I wanted to download a hefty file. I agreed, and some four megabytes of data began to transfer into my phone from an unknown person on the Tehran Blue Line. After the crowd had thinned, I found a seat and decided to peek at my new sext. A very amateur video of a woman giving oral sex in an Iranian car backseat — with audio — began to play over my phone. Luckily the mullah next to me had got off at the previous stop.

It turned out to be a four-minute video of somewhat consensual sex in a variety of positions between Iranian teenagers. This kind of amateur video is all over the internet — and Iranians are again no slouches here either. Should it be surprising, and does it even matter, that this is happening here in the Islamic Republic?

tehranmetro2byaidinmahmoodi.jpgBefore the events of 2009, many thought that this form of libidinal expression was very important, in a political sense. I think it is important, but for other reasons. Pornography in Iran, like in most places, tends to end up as sex education before it actually gratifies any teenage urges. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone into an internet café in Iran and caught groups of young men watching pornography together. The fact that ill-informed youth have to do this is not really just the fault of the Islamic Republic, which is much more forward-thinking on sex education and contraceptive use during marriage, for instance, than its neighbors. Sexual taboos, ingrained during upbringing, affirmed during schooling, and upheld by parents and extended family, all contribute to a fair amount of what used to be called “hang-ups.” These are then most forcefully pressed onto one’s thinking by the very person himself or herself, creating untold amounts of stress in a society where social expectations are quite strong. This is especially the case for Iranian women, who face double social standards not just from the law, but from patriarchal social relations that originated long before the Islamic Republic was a twinkling in Ayatollah Khomeini’s eye. Iranian men can more easily break the same taboos (pre-marital sex, multiple partners, sex that involves play other than traditional intercourse) that they will enforce on their sisters and female sexual partners.

As I wrote before, the tendency of a fair amount of popular and even scholarly books on Iran before 2009 was to portray sexual emancipation in Iran as a pathway to political emancipation. But is Bluetooth sexting and self-made Iranian pornography a revolutionary act? Only if it is a revolutionary act in about 90% of the world (Is sexting in Kenya a revolutionary act? As in Iran, Kenya also outlaws homosexuality as well as most of sub-Saharan Africa). More often it is a form of generational revolution, not against a state dictator but against the parental dictator. Given that there have been bold and courageous feminist activists in Iran who publicly call for reforms of the Islamic Republic’s discriminatory legal system, and suffer the consequences, one needs to be careful not to read into every “anti-social” behavior the seed of resistance. I am not sure if my Bluetooth adventures can be counted as a “weapon of the weak” against the IRI.

Someone running an S&M dungeon in Iran in 1983 should be hailed as a revolutionary (reading de Sade instead of Lolita?). A middle-class Iranian discovering their unknown sexual proclivities for the first time via a cellphone… maybe not. After all, given the wide parental desire to control their adult offspring’s sexual choices in Iran (as elsewhere), I often wonder if, deep down, many Iranian fathers actually like the Islamic Republic’s “fashion police” — in Persian, gasht-e ershad — for acting in loco parentis in the urban metropolis.

However, history has thankfully resolved this question for us. Since the early months of 2009, we have seen what resistance to the current incarnation of the Islamic Republic really looks like. There is no debate over whether the movement to free political prisoners, challenge the June election results, and make the IRI live up to its constitution-given rights, is political or not. In fact, the gasht-e ershad has been surprisingly out of sight since the elections. If the arrow of resistance has gone in any direction, it was the other way around: only once political protest occurs does the government back down on other forms of social control, hoping not to provoke more street protests. The “sext” is more easily assimilated than the fist. Hopefully the two will not be mistaken for each other again.

Photos: Flickr/Aidin Mohammadi, Lobustemporalis (top), and Niosha (homepage)