Survivor of Attack Leads Nuclear Effort in Iran
David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, New York Times – July 22, 2011
WASHINGTON — Eight months after he narrowly survived an assassination attempt on the streets of Tehran, Fereydoon Abbasi, the nuclear physicist whom Iran’s mullahs have put in charge of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, is presiding over what intelligence officials in several countries describe as an unexpected quickening of Iran’s production of nuclear material. The selection of Dr. Abbasi earlier this year was itself a clear message to the West.
Man killed in Iran shooting was student, not nuclear scientist
Associated Press – July 24, 2011
TEHRAN—Iran said the victim of a deadly shooting Saturday was a university student, not a physicist involved in the country’s nuclear program as state media had first reported. A mix-up over the victim’s name apparently led to the confusion, the English-language Press TV said.Initial reports said a pair of gunmen firing from motorcycles killed 35-year-old Dariush Rezai, a physics professor whose area of expertise was neutron transport.
Iranian Scientist Gunned Down at Home
Scott Shane, New York Times – July 23, 2011
Gunmen riding motorcycles fatally shot an Iranian scientist in front of his house in Tehran on Saturday, Iranian news agencies reported. It appeared to be the latest in a series of attacks that Iranian authorities have called an assassination campaign directed by Israeli, American and British intelligence agencies against the country’s nuclear program. It was uncertain what role, if any, he played in Iran’s nuclear program.
Opposition: Iran consolidates nuclear bomb effort
Douglas Birch, AP – July 23, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian opposition group said Friday that Tehran’s leaders have consolidated several scattered nuclear research efforts in a single new defense agency geared to streamline weapons development. The Mujahedin-e Khalk, or MEK, told The Associated Press that Iran’s defense ministry established the new agency in March to merge various nuclear-related programs. The State Department had no immediate comment on the report. Some of MEK’s past claims about Iran’s nuclear program have been confirmed, while others have not. But a former international nuclear inspector said Friday he has heard a similar report.
Iran: Elite Force Commander Is Killed
Reuters – July 22, 2011
A commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed in an explosion during clashes with Kurdish rebels in northwestern Iran, the Guards said in a statement on Friday. It identified the victim as Gen. Abbas Asemi, a commander in Qom Province, southwest of Tehran.
Iran backtracks on report it downed U.S. ‘spy drone’
CNN – July 24, 2011
(CNN) — Iran’s military shot down a report that it downed a U.S. “spy drone” flying near its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant in Qom province, according to Fars, the official Iranian news agency. Fars and state-run Press TV both quoted an Iranian lawmaker last week saying that Iranian air defense units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the drone. The initial report was a mistake caused by a training exercise, an IRGC spokesman told Fars on Friday.
North Korean Envoy to Visit U.S. for Nuclear Talks
Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times – July 24, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — A senior North Korean diplomat believed to be an important strategist in his government’s nuclear negotiations with the United States will visit New York this week to discuss restarting talks seeking to end the North’s nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday. Mrs. Clinton said in a statement that the United States had invited the diplomat, Kim Kye-gwan, the first vice foreign minister, for “an exploratory meeting to determine if North Korea was prepared to affirm its obligations under” previous international agreements on nuclear disarmament and to “take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization.”
Chief Nuclear Negotiators From North and South Korea Meet for First Time Since 2008
Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times – July 22, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea — The chief nuclear negotiators for South and North Korea met Friday for the first time since 2008, raising cautious hopes that after months of recriminations the countries were inching toward broader talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons program. The negotiators, Wi Sung-lac of South Korea and Ri Yong-ho, a newly appointed North Korean envoy, met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum being held in Bali, in Indonesia, officials in Seoul said.
Reading Between North Korea’s Lines
Mark McDonald, New York Times – July 22, 2011
SEOUL — Whenever North Korea sends up a diplomatic flare, as it did recently with a threat to start “a merciless sacred war” against South Korea, the message is delivered in a flamboyant vernacular that can sound comically retro or ominous and threatening. The statements come through the Korean Central News Agency, the state-controlled office that operates a rudimentary Web site with daily reports in Korean, English and Spanish. The agency is the principal (and nearly only) way in which North Korea communicates with the outside world. While North Korea’s back-channel diplomacy has become more temperate in recent years, the Communist propagandists at K.C.N.A. still regularly promise “strikes without mercy by the steadfast and ever-vigilant People’s Army.”
U.S. trucking funds reach Taliban, military-led investigation concludes
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post – July 24, 2011
A year-long military-led investigation has concluded that U.S. taxpayer money has been indirectly funneled to the Taliban under a $2.16 billion transportation contract that the United States has funded in part to promote Afghan businesses. The unreleased investigation provides seemingly definitive evidence that corruption puts U.S. transportation money into enemy hands, a finding consistent with previous inquiries carried out by Congress, other federal agencies and the military. Yet U.S. and Afghan efforts to address the problem have been slow and ineffective, and all eight of the trucking firms involved in the work remain on U.S. payroll. In March, the Pentagon extended the contract for six months.
No permanent U.S. bases in Afghanistan: U.S. ambassador
Michelle Nichols, Reuters – July 25, 2011
(Reuters) – The United States has no interest in creating permanent military bases in Afghanistan and does not want to use the country as a platform to influence neighboring countries, the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said Monday. Washington is negotiating with the Afghan government on a deal to define the long-term American role in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014, when NATO-led combat troops are due to leave after handing security control to the Afghan army and police.
Pakistan Spies on Its Diaspora, Spreading Fear
Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage, New York Times – July 23, 2011
WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents hunting for Pakistani spies in the United States last year began tracking Mohammed Tasleem, an attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York and a clandestine operative of Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. Mr. Tasleem, they discovered, had been posing as an F.B.I. agent to extract information from Pakistanis living in the United States and was issuing threats to keep them from speaking openly about Pakistan’s government. The investigation exposed one part of what American officials say is a broader campaign by the Pakistani spy agency, known as the ISI, to exert influence over lawmakers, stifle public dialogue critical of Pakistan’s military and blunt the influence of India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary.
From Budget Cuts to Dirty Bombs
Kenneth N. Luongo and Kenneth C. Brill, New York Times – July 22, 2011
THE House of Representatives has decided that countering the threat of nuclear terrorism no longer deserves America’s best efforts. Last week, it passed an energy and water budget bill that slashes the country’s defenses against nuclear terrorism — a threat both parties have long recognized as one of the most serious facing America. The Senate has the opportunity to reverse that mistake. If it does not, over a decade of nuclear security gains could evaporate.