Monthly Archives: February 2015

5 Surprising Ways Iran is better than Israel

Informed Comment | Juan Cole | Feb. 27, 2015

I think I’m one of the few Americans who has been to both Iran and Israel. I like both countries and have a lot in common with thinkers in both. I love What I know of Tel Aviv’s cafe culture and the searing honesty and high ethics of the Israeli thinkers I have talked to (so different from the strident and almost cult-like cheerleaderism of right wing Jewish Americans on Israel). It is said that Israelis’ favorite philosopher is Spinoza. I approve. Iranian intellectuals are less able to speak their minds in Iran’s unfree media than their Israeli counterparts (though there is a price to too much frankness in Israel, as well), but one on one they are also level-headed and clear-eyed. I suspect Iranians’ favorite philosopher is Rumi. If so, again, I approve. In fact, I think Rumi and Spinoza would have gotten along famously. Unfortunately contemporary Iran and contemporary Israel don’t get along at all politically, which sets the stage for the Washington melodrama planned for March 3, when Israel’s belligerent prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, will address Congress in a bid to undermine President Obama’s diplomacy with Iran on their civilian nuclear enrichment program.

Iran and European Jewry were both treated horribly in the 19th and 20th centuries by the major European imperial countries. Obviously, proportionally Jews suffered much more than Iranians did; about a third of Jews were murdered in the Nazi genocide. But Iran also suffered significant loss of human life and property. Tsarist Russia fought two wars with it in the early nineteenth century, and annexed from it substantial territory. Britain and Russia forbade Iran from constructing a railroad in the late 19th century, robbing it of a key tool of economic advance; that probably killed a lot of Iranians if you think about its implications. The British and the Russians opposed the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and helped make sure Iranians did not get liberty and a rule of law. Britain backed the rise of the Pahlevi dictatorship in the 1920s, if it did not in fact simply impose it. The US overthrew the elected government of Iran in 1953 because it had nationalized the oil industry and imposed the megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on that country. Ultimately Iranians, outraged at constant interference in their domestic affairs, overthrew the shah and instituted a revolutionary regime based on indigenous Iranian culture, especially religious culture. Although the Jewish response to the European genocide against Jews was not immediately religious (most Zionists were secular), over time religion has come to play a bigger and bigger part in Israeli life. In a sense, Israel and Iran are both reactions against European nationalism and imperialism, though Israel has now allied with the West, whereas Iran continues to oppose many Western policies.

The conflict between Israel and Iran is in part driven by their history with European repression. Israelis, mauled by European “Aryan” nationalism and its mass murder of Jews, do not want an enemy state like Iran to be in a position even to think about constructing a nuclear weapon. Iranians, oppressed by imperialism to the point where they couldn’t have a railroad until the 1920s, are damned if they are going nowadays to let someone else dictate to them how they make electricity.

It is natural that Westerners should find Israel more simpatico than Iran, given the Israeli government’s alliance with the West and Iran’s antipathy. But here are some differences between the two that are in Iran’s favor, which I point out just to balance out the unfair way the two are covered.

1. Iran does not have a nuclear bomb and is signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Despite what is constantly alleged in the Western press and by Western politicians, there is no evidence that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program; and, the theocratic Supreme Leader has forbidden making, stockpiling and using nuclear weapons. In contrast, Israel refused to sign the NPT and has several hundred nuclear warheads, which it constructed stealthily, including through acts of espionage and smuggling in the United States, and against the wishes of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. And, its leaders have more than once implied they are ready to use it; then prime minister Ariel Sharon alarmed George W. Bush when he intimated that he’d nuke Baghdad if Saddam tried to send SCUDs tipped with gas on Israel.

2. Iran has not launched an aggressive war since 1775, when Karim Khan Zand sent an army against Omar Pasha in Basra in neighboring Iraq. Though, whether that was a response to Ottoman provocations or actually an aggressive act could be argued. Who started a war is always a matter of interpretation to some extent, but if we define it as firing the first shot, then Israel started wars in 1956, 1967 and 1982. If the principle of proportionality of response is entered into the equation, then you’d have to say 2006, 2009, and 2014 were also predominantly an Israeli decision.

3. Modern Iran has not occupied the territory of its neighbors. Iraq attacked Iran in 1980 in a bloodthirsty act of aggression. Iran fought off Iraq 1980-1988. But after the hostilities ended, Tehran did not try to take and hold Iraqi territory in revenge. The UN Charter of 1945 forbids countries to annex the land of their neighbors through warfare. In contrast, Israel occupies 4 million stateless Palestinians, who are treated as any subjected, colonized population would be. Nor is there any prospect in my lifetime of those Palestinians gaining citizenship in their own state; they are going to live and die humiliated and colonized and often expropriated.

4. All the people ruled over by Iran can vote in national elections and even Iranian Jews have a representative in parliament. In contrast, of the 12 million people ruled by Israel, 4 million of them have no vote in Israeli politics, which is the politics that actually rules them.

5. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is not trying to undermine the Obama administration’s negotiations with his country, aimed at making sure Iran can have nuclear electricity plants but that it cannot develop a weapon.

Iran’s government is not one I agree with on almost anything, and it is dictatorial and puritanical. I wish Iranians would get past it and join the world’s democracies. Israel is better than Iran in most regards– for Israeli citizens it has more of a rule of law and more personal liberties. But just to be fair, there are some ways Iran’s policies are better than Israel’s.

Related video:

Euronews: ” US tensions with Israel increase over Iran’s nuclear programme”

 

Is Obama’s Vision of Nuclear Zero Leading to Nowhere?

Counterpunch | Feb 27-Mar 01, 2015 | by SHAMS UZ ZAMAN | Islamabad
A Dangerous Rivalry Renewed

As the Second Cold War gathers pace between Moscow and Washington, over range of issues, optimism is fading over possibility of ‘a world free of nuclear weapons’ envisioned by nuclear pessimists since the dawn of nuclear age. The prospects had never been so promising, as had appeared to be, after President Obama’s speech at Prague in 2007 followed by the announcement to cancel deployment of missile defence shield in European theatre, presumably due to Russian concerns. However, the situation changed after U.S. adopted the off-shore rebalancing policy, referred to as ‘Asia-Pivot’, in 2011 which presumably was aimed at containing China and Russia. Obama’s recent pledge to grant India the privileged nuclear status amongst the non-NPT signatory states has further damped the prospects to envision a world free of nuclear weapons in foreseeable future.

Since the promulgation of new set of U.S. strategic priorities for the Asia-Pacific region, China and Russia appears to be in the process of reviewing and enhancing their nuclear and missile capabilities. China recently tested its improved variant of road missile ICBM DF-31B, capable of delivering multiple warheads Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) on the U.S. mainland, while its improved version, named DF-41, is still under development. China is also arming its fleet of stealth submarines with JL-2 ballistic missiles to acquire an assured second strike nuclear capability. Beijing’s antagonism to Washington’s Asia Pivot has seemingly provoked the former to forsake its traditional policy of non-interventionism and neutrality. Chinese non-traditional approach on Ukraine crisis and implicit support to Russia in this new escalating cold war can thus be better understood in the context.

Russians are not lagging behind either. Their newly developed SLBM, Bulava with a strike range of 10000 kms and capability to carry up to 6 – 10 MIRVs of 100 – 150 KT each has become part of the nuclear inventory. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Sochi, criticized Washington for pursuing plans to develop hypersonic weapons under the Global Strike Programme and repudiated the U.S. allegations of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) which according to him was in response to U.S. unilateral abrogation of ABM treaty back in 2002. Russian emerging nuclear posture has also become a source of concern for the U.S. and NATO.

The U.S. nuclear initiatives also appear to be out of step with the contemplated roadmap towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Washington is in a process of revitalizing its nuclear arsenals at an astounding cost of $ 1 trillion spanning over a period of thirty years. Such plans risk undermining President Obama’s initiative for global nuclear zero and the future of new START initiative between Russia and United States.

In South Asia, Indian massive defence spending and conventional arms buildup risks offsetting the regional strategic balance. Agni-VI, capable of delivering multiple warheads through MIRVs is all set to become the new force multiplier for the Indian nuclear deterrent. Development of the two tier interceptor missile defence shield by India is also being keenly watched by Pakistan and China. Economic limitations thus far have prevented Pakistan from indulging into a costly conventional arms race but other options, like for example nuclear, remains plausible to compensate for the growing conventional asymmetries. Adoption of ‘full spectrum deterrence’ posture by Pakistan after developing low yield short range nuclear weapons (also known as (TNWs) tactical nuclear weapons) exhibits its greater reliance on the nuclear deterrence. Worst still, as a consequence to Indo-U.S. nuclear deal South Asia risks becoming the axiom of nuclear arms race. Apprehensive of these insecurities, Pakistan is already on its way to increase the stockpiles of existing nuclear warheads.

In Middle East, P 5+1 and Iran have failed to ink a nuclear deal after having missed the November 2014 deadline. The deadline has been extended once again for another seven months till July 1, 2015. To what extent the Iranian nuclear ambitions can be restrained in future, would largely depend on the mutual trust and security equation between Washington and Tehran. Unfolding of the nuclear diplomacy between Iran and P 5+1 is keenly being watched in Riyadh and Tel Aviv. Saudi Arabia is extremely apprehensive of the growing Iranian influence and has warned that if Iran develops a nuclear bomb, it would have a one of its own, without explaining how.

Militarily powerful Arab states on the periphery of Israel no longer pose an existential threat. However even this scenario has not restrained Israel’s nuclear ambitions, which is in pursuit of acquiring an assured second strike nuclear capability. Israel has plans to induct six nuclear capable “Dolphin Class” submarines in its Navy, four of which have already been procured from Germany. Development of (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) ICBM, Jericho III, with a planned range of 10000 kilometers remains high on its priority. Such developments ostensibly would influence nuclear ambitions and choices of other states in the region.

South East Asia the situation is not promising either. North Korea has been hurling nuclear threats from time to time and has conducted missile tests which have apprehensively been watched by Japan and South Korea. North Korea is believed to possess an increased nuclear inventory of up to 20 nuclear warheads by 2016. Despite U.S. repeated assurances, its allies in Asian Pacific region still remains apprehensive of Chinese growing stature in South and East China Seas. The matter of horizontal nuclear proliferation thus could become a contentious issue in the region if either of the state contemplates nuclear weapon option in wake of the growing security threats.

The nuclear taboo has so far not been broken since the tragic episodes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet it can’t be guaranteed that this would always be the case. Complex global security issues further accentuate the challenges posed by vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons. Due to renewed rivalry of the great powers the possibility of a world free of nuclear weapons, even in distant future, remains implausible while the risks of an accidental or a catalytic nuclear war have increased in recent years.

To mitigate these risks major powers, especially the U.S., China and Russia, shall have to take major initiatives by formulating a cooperative framework for debating and finding solutions to the contentious issues, (UN can also provide such a platform). State situated in troubled regions like India, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and Israel could subsequently be involved to take on the challenging issues along with the subject of nuclear proliferation, without which Obama’s dream of nuclear zero would remain a distant utopia.

Shams uz Zaman holds M.Phil degree in Strategic & Nuclear Studies from National Defence University Islamabad. He is visiting faculty member at Roots University International College, Islamabad and frequently writes in newspapers, magazines and research journals on nuclear and strategic issues. He has has also co-authored the book: “Iran and the Bomb – Nuclear Club Busted”.

Washington Has Destroyed Trust Between Nuclear Powers, Thus Raising The Specter Of Nuclear War

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts | Global Research, February 26, 2015

Ambassador Jack Matlock made an important speech at the National Press Club on February 11. Matlock served as US ambassador to the Soviet Union during 1987-91.

In his speech he describes how President Reagan won the trust of the Soviet leadership in order to bring to an end the Cold War and its risk of nuclear armageddon.

Reagan’s meeting with Gorbachev did not rely on position papers written by staff. It relied on a hand-written memo by Reagan himself that stressed respect for the Soviet leadership and a clear realization that negotiation must not expect the Soviet leaders to do something that is not in the true interest of their country. The way to end the conflict, Reagan wrote, is to cooperate toward a common goal. Matlock said that Reagan refused to personalize disagreements or to speak derogatorily of any Soviet leader.

Matlock makes the point that Reagan’s successors have done a thorough job of destroying this trust. In the last two years the destruction of trust has been total.

How can the Russian government trust Washington when Washington violates the word of President George H.W. Bush and takes NATO into Eastern Europe and places military bases on Russia’s border?

How can the Russian government trust Washington when Washington pulls out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and places Anti-Ballistic Missiles on Russia’s border?

How can the Russian government trust Washington when Washington overthrows in a coup the elected government of Ukraine and installs a puppet regime that immediately expresses hostility toward Russia and the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and destroys Soviet war memorials commemorating the Red Army’s liberation of Ukraine from Nazi Germany?

How can the Russian government trust Washington when the President of Russia is called every name in the book, including “the new Hitler,” and gratuitously accused of every sort of crime and personal failing?

Washington and its neoconservative monsters have destroyed trust with demonization and blame of Russia for violence in Ukraine for which Washington is responsible.

Washington has forced Europe to impose economic sanctions on Russia that are based entirely on lies and false accusations. The Russians know this. They recognize the blatant hostility, the blatant lies, the never-ending crude propaganda, the hypocritical double-standards, the push toward war.

Simultaneously China is experiencing hostile encirclement with Washington’s “pivot to Asia.”

By destroying trust, Washington has resurrected the threat of nuclear armageddon. Washington’s destruction of trust between nuclear powers is the crime of the century.

On February 24, I held accountable Alexander J. Motyl and the Council on Foreign Relations for publishing on February 5 a large collection of blatant lies in order to create a false reality with which to demonize the Russian government. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/02/24/washington-resurrected-threat-nuclear-war-paul-craig-roberts/ I observed that the publication of ignorant nonsense in what is supposed to be a respectable foreign policy journal indicated the degradation of the Western political and media elite.

I did not think things could get any worse, but one day later I came across Andrew S. Weiss’ article in the Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/putin-the-improviser-1424473405

Weiss’ article is the most amazing collection of misrepresentations imaginable. It is impossible to believe that the vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment could possible be so totally misinformed. The false reality that Weiss creates precludes any diplomatic resolution of the conflict that Washington has created with Russia.

What is the explanation for Weiss’ misrepresentations of Putin, the origin of the conflict and the cause of its continuation?

Recalling the confession of Udo Ulfkotte, an editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, that he published under his name articles handed to him by the CIA and that the entire European press does the same, was Weiss handed the disinformation by the CIA, or by Victoria Nuland, or is the answer simply that Weiss worked on Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council, the State Department and the Defense Department and is one of Washington’s propaganda operatives currently operating out of a think-tank?

The more important question is: What is the purpose behind Washington’s cause and misrepresentation of the conflict? Was the destruction of trust between nuclear powers intentional or a consequence of other purposes? Is Washington simply using its ability to control explanations in order to cover up its involvement in the overthrow of a democratically elected government, an outcome that has gone bad? Or is the answer merely that Washington is peeved that it failed to get its hands on Russia’s Black Sea naval base in Crimea and has had to give up, at least for now, on getting Russia out of the Mediterranean and out of the Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria?

As I explained today to an international conference hosted by institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the prevention of “the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere” with sufficient resources and power to be able to serve as a check on unilateral action by Washington.

When Russian diplomacy blocked Washington’s planned invasion of Syria and planned bombing of Iran, the neoconservatives realized that they had failed in their “first objective” and were now faced with a check on unilateral action. The attack on Russia instantly began. The $5 billion Washington had spent funding NGOs in Ukraine and cultivating Ukrainian politicians produced the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government. Washington imposed a puppet government that instantly employed violent words and deeds against the Russian population, resulting in the secession of Crimea and the formation of other break-away provinces.

With English as the world language and the compliant media or presstitutes in Washington’s service, Washington has been able to control the explanation, blame Putin for the crisis, and force Europe to breakup its economic and political relations with Russia by imposing economic sanctions.

In a vain and failed attempt to keep the US as the Uni-power capable of dictating to the world, the neoconservatives have recklessly and irresponsibly resurrected the threat of nuclear armageddon. The neoconservative dominance of US foreign policy makes impossible any restoration of trust. Washington’s propaganda is driving the situation toward war. As neither Washington nor the Russian/Chinese alliance can afford to lose the war, the war will be nuclear. Any survivors will be doomed by nuclear winter.

The entire world must quickly become aware of the danger and confront the evil regime that the neoconservatives–the Sauron of our world–have created in Washington. To do otherwise is to risk life on earth.

Israel Should Pay for Weapons-Grade Uranium Smuggling Site Cleanup in PA-IRmep Lawsuit

PRNewswire | Feb. 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A federal lawsuit seeks disclosure of thousands of Central Intelligence Agency files revealing why the CIA is convinced that Israel stole enough U.S. government-owned weapons-grade uranium in the 1960’s to manufacture over a dozen atomic weapons.

The 147-page complaint (PDF) filed in DC’s U.S. District Court contains exhibits about how U.S. weapons-grade uranium was illegally diverted from the now-defunct Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in Apollo, Pennsylvania into the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons development program. The CIA for decades has blocked researcher Freedom of Information Act access to its core files on the NUMEC diversion.

The lawsuit against CIA comes at the conclusion of IRmep’s courtroom victory this month against the U.S. Department of Defense to release a report (PDF) on the Israeli H-bomb development program, laser enrichment of weapons-grade material and 1987 status of its nuclear weapons production sites.

The CIA lawsuit exhibits reveal:

1. An FBI eyewitness account of NUMEC executives stuffing irradiators with weapons-grade uranium canisters for rush shipment to Israel.
2. A leaked file of CIA Directorate of Operations Chief Carl Duckett confirming the illegal diversion to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
3. The NUMEC facility visit during its highest-loss year of Israel’s top spies, including Jonathan Pollard’s handler Rafael Eitan and Avraham Bendor.
4. LBJ and Carter administration attempts to cover-up CIA’s compelling evidence that an illegal diversion occurred.
5. CIA Tel Aviv Station Chief John Hadden’s analysis that NUMEC “was an Israeli operation from the beginning.”
6. Former Atomic Energy Commissioner Glenn T. Seaborg’s account of the Energy Department claims that traces of the specialized highly-enriched uranium provided to NUMEC were picked up in Israel.
7. A GAO report on NUMEC with CIA equity the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel compelled be publicly released in 2014.

Currently, U.S. taxpayers are expected to pay for a nearly half-billion dollar U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleanup of the environment surrounding the undercapitalized smuggling front’s former plant sites and waste dump.

According to IRmep Director Grant F. Smith, “It is our hope that this lawsuit is a productive step in finally holding those truly responsible for the NUMEC fiasco accountable.”

IRmep is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit researching U.S. Middle East policy formulation. Select CIA and DOD lawsuit filings may be viewed at IRmep’s Center for Policy and Law Enforcement web page at: http://irmep.org/CFL.htm

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/israel-should-pay-for-weapons-grade-uranium-smuggling-site-cleanup-in-pa-irmep-lawsuit-300041239.html

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy
Copyright 2015 PR Newswire

Restart of aging nuclear reactor sparks controversy

The Korea Herald | 2015-02-27

South Korea’s decision to extend the life of its second-oldest nuclear power plant until 2020 has triggered controversy, with residents and civic groups expressing concerns over its safety.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, the country’s nuclear watchdog, said Friday that seven of its nine commissioners had voted to restart the 678-megawatt Wolsong unit 1 reactor in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

The heavy water reactor shut down in 2012 after reaching the end of its 30-year lifespan.

The state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which operates the reactor, welcomed the approval, and announced its plan to restart operations in April.

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Residents of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, where the Wolsong unit 1 reactor is located, stage a protest against the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission’s decision to extend the life span of the reactor on Friday. (Yonhap)

“The Wolsong unit 1 reactor has gone through a thorough safety inspection over the past five years,” Cho Seok, chief executive of the KHNP, said during a press conference at the company’s headquarters on Friday.

The operator, part of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp., has been seeking to restart Wolsong unit 1, and runs 23 reactors, producing about a third of South Korea’s power.

Cho said that the company would examine the facility’s resistance to unexpected natural disasters and other potential accidents, adding that it would step up efforts to communicate with residents in the region.

Despite the reactor’s economic feasibility, frequent glitches have triggered safety concerns.

Over the 30 years since the reactor started operating in 1983, the nuclear plant was suspended 39 times due to malfunctions.

Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor meltdowns in 2011 further raised safety concerns globally.

Korea’s environmental civic group Collective Action for Nuclear Free Society called for the reactor’s life-span extension to be nullified.

“The NSSC pushed ahead with the voting amid fierce controversy over the Wolsong unit 1 reactor’s safety problems, as it failed to meet technical standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the group’s spokesperson said.

In October, the state-run Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety completed an inspection of the reactor, and concluded that the unit was suitable for operation only until November 2022 as long as certain engineering improvements were made.

However, the NSSC delayed its decision, saying more opinions on seismic risk were required.

The NSSC must officially renew the license before the owner, the KHNP, can continue generating electricity.

Those who approved the restart said the reactor was safe to generate electricity as the KHNP made a 560 billion won ($59 million) investment to upgrade it.

They also warned of an electric power supply problem should the Wolsong unit 1 be permanently shut down.

Gyeongju residents and environmentalists said the shutdown would not adversely affect electricity supply, citing a private inspection team’s review which showed that safety cannot be guaranteed if the reactor continues to operate.

The latest decision will be critical for other reactors, including Kori unit 1, the country’s oldest, which had its operations extended by 10 years to 2017.

Among the 23 reactor units that are currently operating in South Korea, a total of 12 units will reach the end of their lifespans by 2025.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)

EDF Pushes Back Decision On Hinkley Point C

Nuclear Street News Team | Wed, Feb 25 2015

 

Electricite de France said it would delay a decision, which had been expected in March, on when it would proceed with construction of a new nuclear power reactor at the Hinkley Point facility in Somerset, England.

A final go-ahead was expected in the middle of 2014, but the company said last year it would make a decision in March of 2015. However, EDF now says it will not be ready to make the announcement next month, either.

Construction Inquirer said the Hinkley C project is expected to cost $24.3 billion.

EDF said current market conditions and ongoing negotiations with China General Nuclear Power Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation were the reasons for the new setback.

The company, which is mostly state owned, recently announced its earning for 2014, which included a 25 percent drop in profits to $1.3 billion. But time is still of the essence for a decision on Hinkley Point C, said EDF chief Jean-Bernard Levy. He kept remarks brief, however, citing ongoing negotiations as the reason to refrain from further comment.

Negotiations include the possibility of a nuclear construction project in Bradwell in Essex, England. CGNPC and CNNC are seeking commitments to build as part of a deal to finance Hinkley Point C, according to media reports.

EDF’s financial problems stem from project delays in France and Finland. In Flamanville in Normandy, a pressurized water rector expected to go on line in 2016 is now projected to start operations in 2017. Construction of Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, which began in 2005, is not expected to be completed until 2018.

Iran, six powers to hold nuclear talks in Switzerland on March 5

REUTERS | BRUSSELS | Fri Feb 27, 2015

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a news conference with his Belarussian counterpart Vladimir Makei in Minsk

 

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a news conference with his Belarussian counterpart Vladimir Makei in Minsk February 17, 2015.          Credit: Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

(Reuters) – Senior officials from Iran and six powers negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program will hold more talks in Montreux, Switzerland, on March 5, the European Union said on Friday.

The talks between political directors will be preceded by a series of bilateral meetings between Iran and some of the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – starting on Monday, March 2.

“The EU is making every effort to facilitate the negotiations: we cannot miss the opportunity of a good agreement,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department announced on Thursday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would meet with Iranian nuclear negotiators in Montreux next week.

The six powers are seeking to negotiate an agreement with Tehran to address concerns that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons technology, something it denies.

Negotiators hope to meet a self-imposed March 31 deadline for an initial political deal.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Kevin Liffey)