IAEA seeking Parchin visit
The International Atomic Energy Agency is reportedly planning to renew their request for access to Iran’s Parchin military complex during a planned meeting in Tehran on Thursday. Parchin is suspected to have been the site of possible explosives testing related to past nuclear weapons research. According to IAEA chief Yukia Amano “I cannot guarantee that we can find something or not. But I continue to believe that having access is very useful to have a better understanding of past and current activities at Parchin.”
Iran in economic recession
According to the Institute for International Finance, the Iranian economy has slipped into a recession as a result of sanctions imposed on it by the international community. According to IIF the Iranian GDP is expected to shrink by 3.5% in 2012, compared with a 1.2% expansion last year. Inflation has also nearly doubled, from 26.5% in 2011 to an average of 50% this year. IIF also notes that “as the economy enters a recession, the regime faces pressures from rising public unrest and discontent within Parliament.”
New Iran Project report
Last week the Iran Project released a new report, Weighing the Benefits and Costs of International Sanctions against Iran. The new report was endorsed by ASP CEO Brigadier General Stephen Cheney and ASP board member Sen. Chuck Hagel. It is a follow-up to a September 2012 analysis Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Military Action against Iran. Neither report advocates a particular course of action, but rather seeks to inform the debate over U.S. policy towards Iran. ASP’s Aaron Hesse provides a more detailed analysis here.
President Obama: Senators Nunn and Lugar “two visionaries”
In an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, President Obama called the program “one of the country’s smartest and most successful national security programs.” He also praised the founders of the program, Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar as “visionaries” who “challenged us to think anew.” Although Russia declined to renew CTR this fall President Obama reiterated his preference to continue cooperation on arms control. “Let’s continue the work that’s so important to the security of both our countries. And I’m optimistic that we can.”
New technique can detect nuclear explosions from space
Researchers from Ohio State University have developed a new technique to detect underground nuclear explosions using satellites. A nuclear blast emits a large electromagnetic pulse that interacts with earth’s ionosphere. Using satellites that are sensitive enough to detect fluctuations in the ionosphere may allow international monitors to be able to locate the origin of an underground nuclear test. In time this system could be added to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty’s International Monitoring System, which employs a variety of techniques to detect worldwide nuclear tests.
Three charged with attempting to export carbon fiber to Iran, China
Three men have been charged with attempting to export carbon fiber to Iran and China. The material may be used to construct components used in centrifuges to enrich uranium; although it is unclear whether that is what the material was intended to be used for. According to Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, “Two of these defendants are charged with arranging its export to Iran, where it most assuredly had the potential to end up in the wrong hands.”
North Korea extends timeline for rocket launch
Citing technical problems, North Korea has extended the timeline for its latest rocket launch to December 29th. In a terse statement North Korea promised it was “pushing forward” with the planned launch and cited a “technical deficiency in the first-stage control engine module of the rocket” as the reason for the delay. The international community has condemned the planned launch, although North Korea maintains its intentions are peaceful. This is the North’s fifth attempt at successfully launching a three-stage rocket since 1998.