Tag Archives: Iran sanctions

How Iran Copes with Sanctions? eco-friendly

According to the latest figures from the Natural Gas Vehicle Knowledge Base, Iran, with the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves after Russia, in 2011 became the world leader in natural gas vehicles with some 2.9 million on the road, narrowly edging Pakistan, which is trailed by Argentina, Brazil and India, respectively.  Iran’s reliance on its cleaner fossil fuel seems unlikely to diminish as international sanctions continue to bear down on its nuclear program, which in turn have curbed imports of gasoline; though Iran has large oil reserves, its ability to refine its own gasoline falls well short of its needs.  But for ordinary Iranian motorists, natural gas is less a geopolitical or environmental issue than a pocketbook concern. “This sort of fuel is cheap, and it gets me home every day — that’s what I care about,” said Sasan Ahmadi, a 42-year-old office assistant filling up his Iranian-made Kia Pride at a natural-gas station for his hour commute home.

The government began promoting natural gas about a decade ago, and not just in response to American-led sanctions. A big initial reason was the increasingly thick yellow blankets of smog that often engulf greater Tehran and its 12 million inhabitants. That was a result of rising auto sales by domestic carmakers like Iran Khodro and Saipa, which took off as oil revenue began rising sharply around 15 years ago, enriching tens of millions of Iranians…..

As a means to counter outside economic pressure, natural gas’s usefulness is clear. Because of its inadequate investment in oil refineries, Iran has long been forced to refine a portion of its own crude at refineries in Europe to satisfy rising domestic demand for gasoline. So when the European Union in July barred gasoline sales to the country, natural gas helped to blunt the blow.

Despite the sanctions against Iran, motorists like Mr. Ahmadi can make their commute for the equivalent of less than a penny a mile using the alternative fuel at subsidized prices. Gasoline is more expensive, especially because government subsidies have been reduced, but it is still incredibly cheap by Western standards: less than $1 a gallon….

Excerpt, THOMAS ERDBRINK, Oil-Rich Iran, Natural Gas Turns Wheels, New York Times, Oct. 23, 2012

Exports of Nuclear Parts to Iran, the tricky business of dual-use equipment

The US, which continues to put tremendous pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear “weapon” programme, was in for a shock recently when a California-based firm was fined by the country’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the Department of Commerce  (pdf) for sales of dual-use nuclear equipment that may have actually landed in Tehran.   It is alleged Mattson Technology sold 47 pressure transducers worth $78,000 ( to customers in Israel, Malaysia, China, Singapore, and Taiwan during 2006-08. Pressure transducers are dual-use equipment with nuclear applications in measuring the gas pressure inside centrifuge cascades.  The sales made to customers in China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan have particularly evoked concern because of their history as intermediaries for goods required for Iran’s sanctioned nuclear programme.  Mattson agreed to pay an $850,000 fine last month. However, $600,000 of the amount could be waived if the first installment of $250,000 is paid within 30 days of the order and the firm agrees to compliance with the terms of its probation (including not making any other illegal sales for a year).

Iran is known as an active purchaser of a large number of pressure transducers, according to a report by Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) – a renowned US-based think tank on nuclear non-proliferation.  Iran, the ISIS says, sent in 2008-2009, more than 40 requests for price quotes to German manufacturers.

US firm fined over nuclear gear ‘sale’ to Iran, India Today, May 28, 2012

According to the BIS “Abut May 2006, one of Mattson’s supply chain partners informed it that pressure transducers that Mattson [has been employing in its production process of semiconductor wafers] required export licenses when shipped to Mattson customers in certain foreign countries.”  However, Mattson continued its exports from June 7, 2006 to April 24, 2008.

Iranian Nuclear Program: turning the screws on

The U.N. atomic agency plans to reveal intelligence next week suggesting Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead and other previously undisclosed details on alleged secret work by Tehran on nuclear arms, diplomats told The Associated Press.  Other new confidential information the International Atomic Energy Agency plans to share with its 35 board members will include satellite imagery of what the IAEA believes is a large steel container used for nuclear arms-related high explosives tests, the diplomats said.

The agency has previously listed activities it says indicate possible secret nuclear weapons work by Iran, which has been under IAEA perusal for nearly a decade over suspicions that it might be interested in develop such arms.  But the newest compilation of suspected weapons-related work is significant in substance and scope. The diplomats say they will reveal suspicions that have not been previously made public and greatly expand on alleged weapons-related experiments that have been published in previous reports on Iran’s nuclear activities.  It also comes as the drumbeat of reports about possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities intensifies.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Friday that international community is closer to pursuing a military solution to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program than a diplomatic one. The comments, from a known dove, assumed added significance because they followed unsubstantiated reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking his government’s support for a strike against Tehran.  British media have separately cited unnamed British officials as saying London was prepared to offer military support to any U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  In Vienna, the diplomats — from IAEA member nations — asked for anonymity because their information was privileged. One of th said the material drawn up by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano will be in an annex running around 12 pages and attached to the latest of a regular series of agency reports on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and other activities that could be used to arm nuclear missiles.  Previously undisclosed information contained in the annex, said the diplomats, will include:

— Intelligence from unnamed member states that a bus-sized steel container, located at the Iranian military base of Parchin is likely being used for nuclear-related high explosives testing of the kind needed to release an atomic blast. The agency has satellite imagery of the container.

— Expanded evidence that Iranian engineers worked on computer models of nuclear payloads for missiles.

Significantly, said the diplomats, these alleged experiments took place after 2003 — the year that Iran was believed to have stopped secret work on nuclear weapons, according to a 2007 U.S. intelligence assessment. But diplomats have told the AP that Tehran continued arms-related experiments in a less concentrated way after that date, a view reflected by recent IAEA reports that have detailed suspicions that such work may be continuing up to the present.

The annex will also say that more than 10 nations have supplied intelligence suggesting Iran is secretly developing components of a nuclear arms program — among them an implosion-type warhead that it wants to mount on a ballistic missile.

It says that two foreign “sources” — apparently countries or nongovernment groups within countries — have helped Iran develop a weapons design, without naming them. And it details how Iran bought “dual use” — peaceful or military — nuclear technology from the black market network of renegade Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan, as well as alleged preparations for a nuclear weapons test.

The upcoming report is meant to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic republic to stop four years of stonewalling of IAEA experts seeking to follow up intelligence of such secret weapons-related experiments.  Iran denies such activities, asserting that they are based on intelligence fabricated by Washington. It also denies that its uanium enrichment program — under U.N. Security Council sanctions because it could manufacture fissile warhead material — is meant for anything else but making nuclear fuel.

In his previous report in September, Amano said he was “increasingly concerned” about a stream of intelligence suggesting that Iran continues to work secretly on developing a nuclear payload for a missile and other components of a nuclear weapons program.  He said “many member states” are providing evidence for that assessment, describing the information the agency is receiving as credible, “extensive and comprehensive.”  That report warned of the “possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities” linked to weapons work. In particular, said the report, the agency continues to receive new information about “activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”  Acquired from “many” member states, the information possessed by the IAEA is “extensive and comprehensive … (and) broadly consistent and credible,” said the report.

U.N. has new Iranian nuke arms claims, Associated Press, Nov. 4, 2011

See also the Security of Nuclear Materials