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NUKEWARS
Israel capable of attacking Iran on own: army chief
by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) April 16, 2013


Iran's nuclear power plant unaffected by quake: Russia
Moscow (AFP) April 16, 2013 - Iran's Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr was not affected by the country's powerful earthquake on Tuesday and continues its operations as normal, a spokesman for the Russian state nuclear corporation said.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant on the Gulf is located some 950 kilomtres (590 miles) west of Khash, a town near the epicentre of what Iran said was a 7.5 magnitude quake.

"A representative at the site said they did not even feel the tremors," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov told AFP.

"The epicentre was far away from Bushehr."

Built by Russia despite initial protests from Israel and the United States, Bushehr began adding electricity to the Iranian power grid in 2011.

Iranian leader steers clear of talking uranium in Niger
Niamey (AFP) April 16, 2013 - The leaders of Iran and Niger on Tuesday said they had engaged in "fruitful" discussions but had not talked about uranium during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's two-day visit to the world's fourth-largest uranium producer.

"Niger is a uranium producer, but as surprising as it may sound to you, we did not touch upon that," Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said during a press conference in Niamey. "The specific question of uranium has not been discussed."

Western powers suspect Tehran of covertly developing the capacity to produce a nuclear bomb, but Iran denies this and says its programme is for energy and medical purposes.

Niger has recently criticised a longstanding agreement it has with France, which gets most of its uranium from the former colony, and has demanded a bigger share of the profits from uranium ore mining.

Niger's foreign minister visited Tehran in February.

"We are (both) signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and we agree that uranium should serve people, promoting life and not (be used) for destruction," Issoufou told reporters.

"President Issoufou's answer is clear and sufficient," Ahmadinejad said on the topic, adding that the two leaders had engaged in "fruitful, detailed and constructive discussions", focusing mainly on economic cooperation.

Last week, Iran unveiled a new uranium production facility and two mines, only days after talks with world powers on its nuclear programme again ended in deadlock.

The United States responded by saying it was "very concerned" over the development.

Niger is the half-way stop on Ahmadinejad's three-nation west African tour that has already taken him to Benin and which will be wrapped up with a visit to Ghana before he returns to Tehran on Wednesday.

The Iranian leader arrived in Ghana around 5:30pm (GMT) and was greeted by President John Dramani Mahama, a large crowd, Muslim clerics and senior government officials, said an AFP reporter on the scene.

Ahmadinejad made no public statement at the airport.

His visit to Ghana came on the day a powerful earthquake, measured at magnitude 7.8 by the US Geological Survey, struck southeastern Iran, killing at least 34 people across the border in Pakistan and shaking buildings as far away as the Gulf and New Delhi.

The Iranian leader is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with his host on Wednesday before returning home.

Israel's army is capable of attacking Iran on its own without foreign support, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told public radio on the 65th anniversary of the Jewish state's foundation.

Asked in an interview if Israel's military could wage attacks "alone" -- without the support of countries such as the United States -- against the Islamic republic, Gantz replied, "Yes, absolutely."

"We have our plans and forecasts... if the time comes we'll decide" on whether to take military action against Tehran, he said.

Gantz's comments echoed statements earlier this month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel would "at no stage... abandon our fate into the hands of other countries, even our best friends."

Israel believes the Islamic republic, which has issued numerous bellicose statements against the Jewish state, is working to achieve military nuclear capabilities. It has not ruled out a military strike to prevent this happening.

Last month Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would "annihilate" the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if it comes under attack by the Jewish state.

Iran denies it is developing an atomic bomb and says it needs its nuclear programme for peaceful medical and energy purposes.

Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East's sole nuclear-armed state, albeit undeclared.

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Gantz said the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran was not imminent, and that sanctions imposed by the international community should be given priority to stop Tehran's nuclear drive.

"Iran has the means to obtain nuclear capability before the end of the year, but this does not mean it'll get there," he told news website YNet, adding that "sanctions, isolation and continued pressure" on Tehran must intensify.

Iran is estimated to have lost billions of dollars in oil sales and the value of its currency has plummeted.

An independent February report said a fall in pharmaceutical exports to Iran was also causing harm and was undeniably triggered by international sanctions.

US President Barack Obama said in March that Iran was still more than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon.

In a third interview, with Israeli military radio, Gantz also warned of the security threat posed by neighbouring Syria's civil war.

"The rebels are for now engaged in combat against the army of President Bashar al-Assad," he said.

"But it's clear there will be a second war, possibly between (current opponents of Assad), or possibly directed at us. I think it'll be both at the same time," he said.

Mortar rounds and small-arms fire from inside Syria landed in Israeli-controlled territory in the Golan Heights earlier this month, with the Israeli army responding with tank fire.

Sanctions on Iran may not be enough: Netanyahu
Jerusalem (AFP) April 16, 2013 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that "tough sanctions" currently imposed on Iran might not be enough to prevent Tehran from obtaining a military nuclear capability.

"We need to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," he told foreign diplomats attending a reception at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, marking the 65th anniversary of the Jewish state's foundation.

"We've seen the consequences of a rogue regime having atomic weapons," he said in reference to North Korea. "Tough sanctions and talk don't always do the job."

Israel believes the Islamic republic, which has issued many bellicose statements about the Jewish state, is working to achieve a military nuclear capability and has not ruled out a military strike to prevent this happening.

Last month Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would "annihilate" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if it comes under attack by Israel.

Iran denies it is developing an atomic bomb and says it needs its nuclear programme of uranium enrichment for peaceful medical and energy purposes.

Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East's sole nuclear-armed state, albeit undeclared.

At the Tuesday night reception, new Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon echoed Netanyahu's sentiments. He called Iran's nuclear programme "the most significant threat" to the world, the progress of which was proof "Tehran wasn't impressed by the steps taken so far."

"The Western states must understand that only assertive action will curb the threat. Only forcing the Iranian regime to choose between a bomb or survival will bring Iran to halt the project."

To Yaalon, while it is not the Jewish state that should spearhead efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, it is Israel that could be a first target of Tehran's possible aggression.

"Israel should not lead the campaign against Iran, since it is 'only' the Little Satan," Yaalon said, using the term coined by Ayatollah Khomeini. "The Great Satan is America, or the Western world led by the US."

"But it is clear to us that the first target of the Ayatollah regime could be Israel," he said.

"The world should lead the campaign against Iran, but Israel must prepare for the possibility that it will have to defend itself on its own," Yaalon said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, said the country's military was capable of attacking Iran on its own without foreign support.

Asked in an interview on public radio if the military could wage attacks on Iran "alone" -- without the support of countries such as the United States -- Gantz replied: "Yes, absolutely."

"We have our plans and forecasts... If the time comes we'll decide" on whether to take military action, he said.

Gantz's comments echoed statements earlier this month by Netanyahu, who said Israel would "at no stage... abandon our fate into the hands of other countries, even our best friends."

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Gantz said the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran was not imminent, and that sanctions imposed by the international community should be given priority to halt Tehran's nuclear drive.

"Iran has the means to obtain nuclear capability before the end of the year, but this does not mean it'll get there," he told news website YNet, adding that "sanctions, isolation and continued pressure" on Tehran must intensify.

Iran is estimated to have lost billions of dollars in oil sales and the value of its currency has plummeted.

An independent report in February said a fall in pharmaceutical exports to Iran was also causing harm and was undeniably triggered by international sanctions.

US President Barack Obama said in March that Iran was still more than a year away from developing a nuclear weapon.

.


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