Readers Number : 80
07/02/2009 Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country's top leader said Saturday.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the US, the UN and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country's history.
"It was from the depth of various kinds of sanctions imposed on Iran for years that the Omid satellite came into existence and was sent into orbit," state television quoted Sayyed Khamenei as saying.
"And it was out of all restrictions imposed against the Iranian nation that (Iran) achieved uranium enrichment technology, which is in the hands of few powerful countries," his eminence was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the launch of Iran's first domestically produced satellite.
Since 2006, Iran has been under UN Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs. Iran stresses that its nuclear program aims for peaceful use only and it is its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
On Monday night, Iran sent its first domestically made satellite - called the Omid, or hope in Farsi - into orbit using an Iranian-built satellite-carrier rocket. Analysts described it as a key step for an ambitious space program that worries the US and other world powers.
US Vice President: US Willing to Talk to Iran
Readers Number : 101
07/02/2009 US Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that the new US administration will set a "new tone" in its foreign relations but warned that other nations must also raise their game.
"I come to Europe on behalf of a new administration determined to set a new tone not only in Washington, but in America's relations around the world," Biden said at the international security conference in Munich. But he added: "America will do more, but America will ask for more from our partners."
"As we seek a lasting framework for our common struggle against extremism, we will have to work cooperatively with nations around the world -- and we will need your help," Biden said in his first trip abroad since taking office along with Obama on January 20. "As a great Irish poet once wrote, our world has changed utterly -- a terrible beauty has been born. We must change too."
As an example, Biden said the United States would ask other countries to take in inmates from its Guantanamo Bay prison, which President Barack Obama has said he will close.
Biden reiterated Obama's position that Washington was willing to talk to Iran after three decades of frozen diplomatic relations, but he said that the Islamic republic must abandon its "secret atomic program." "We will be willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down the current course and there will be continued pressure and isolation; abandon the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives," he said.
He said that Washington would press ahead with its missile defense program, but only if it works and is not too expensive -- and also in consultation with Moscow, which has been angered by the plans. "We will continue to develop missile defense to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven and it is cost effective. We will do so in consultation with you, our NATO allies, and with Russia," Biden said.
He also confirmed that Obama would attend a summit of the G20 group of advanced and developing nations in London on April 2, and said that Washington would "lead by example and act aggressively" on climate change.
Biden also said that Washington was ready to "press the reset button" in strained relations with Russia. "It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together," he said, at a major international security conference in Munich, southern Germany.
MERKEL, SARKOZY THREATEN MORE IRAN SANCTIONS
Germany is hoping for a diplomatic solution to the conflict over Iran's nuclear program but is ready for tougher sanctions if no progress is made, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the conference.
"We want a diplomatic solution," Merkel said, referring to new Obama's offer to hold talks with Tehran on the nuclear issue. "I think the new US administration will make its approach towards Iran clear to us in coming months. We are ready to walk this path together. But we are also ready for tougher sanctions if there is no progress," Merkel said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said during the conference that there was no alternative to tightening sanctions against Iran over its nuclear work if it does not meet western demands and Russia must show it is ready help with such a move. "We need the Russians to help so that sanctions against Iran are effective," Sarkozy added.
"We only have one solution left, reinforce sanctions against Iran and link Russia to this process," he said. "It is up to Russia to decide which face it wants to show. If it wants peace it should show it. If it wants to be a (global player), it should help us with Iran."