Claims of second explosive chamber raise new questions as talks reach deadline
BY: Adam Kredo  
Iran’s illicit nuclear program could be more advanced than previously believed, according to new information released Friday by an Iranian dissident group that raises new questions about what Tehran has been hiding from nuclear inspectors.

Iran is said to have built and still be in possession of two explosive chambers that have allowed the regime to conduct advanced testing of nuclear weapons, according to new information published by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian opposition group that has exposed Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities in the past.

AFP: The US has put forward a "framework" plan to meet Iran's energy needs, President Barack Obama revealed Wednesday, but warned it was unclear if a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions would be struck.As a November 24 deadline for an historic accord between Iran and global powers looms, Obama said the coming weeks would test the true intentions of the Islamic republic after a decade of stop-start global efforts.

AP: Iranian authorities have arrested a Ukrainian national suspected of sabotage at the country's sole nuclear power plant, an Iranian newspaper reported on Sunday. The report in the Hamshahri daily said the "Ukrainian expert" was affiliated with a Russian contractor that works in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which went online in 2011 with Russian aid.

AFP: A deal on Iran's contested nuclear program before a November 24 deadline is highly unlikely, a Western diplomat close to negotiations said on Monday.

"There are four-and-a-half weeks left to conclude a definitive pact. We are hoping for that but the chances are very slim," the diplomat said.

Wall Street Journal: A new round of talks to seal a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and six major world powers will start Sept. 18 in New York, Western diplomats said on Wednesday. The two sides had said negotiations would resume ahead of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. For the past six months, the talks have taken place in Vienna.

ANKARA (Reuters) - Iranian security services have arrested several suspected spies in the southern province of Bushehr where the country's first nuclear power plant is located, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Tuesday.

Iran has repeatedly cited signs of what it calls foreign plots to sabotage its nuclear programme, which world powers fear could be put to developing an atomic bomb capability and are seeking to curb through high-level negotiations, with a deadline of Nov. 24 for an accord.

AP: A new and seemingly promising U.N probe of allegations that Iran worked on atomic arms has stalled, diplomats say, leaving investigators not much further than where they started a decade ago and dampening U.S. hopes of reaching a deal with Tehran by a November deadline. Expectations were high just two weeks ago, when chief U.N. nuclear inspector Yukiya Amano emerged from talks in Tehran.

VIENNA (Reuters) - Efforts to reach a deal over Iran’s nuclear programme are in a “critical phase” ahead of a late November deadline for an agreement to end the decade-old dispute, an EU spokesman said on Thursday after high-level negotiations in Vienna.

“We are trying hard to make progress and remain fully engaged to achieve a comprehensive solution” by the Nov. 24 deadline, said Michael Mann, spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Reuters: Iran held talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Sunday about its investigation into suspicions that Tehran has conducted atomic bomb research. Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reza Najafi, appeared to acknowledge, however, that Tehran had missed a deadline of Aug.25 to meet five requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear programme.

AFP: Iran and world powers have a "difficult road" ahead as they attempt to agree a nuclear deal by a November deadline, with major differences remaining, Tehran's lead negotiator said Thursday. "We are always optimistic. But we have a difficult road to go," Abbas Araqchi told reporters after a day of talks in Vienna with officials from France, Germany and Britain.

AFP: Officials from Iran and Britain, France and Germany were due Thursday to hold nuclear talks in Vienna towards reaching a potentially historic accord by November. The three European countries form part of a six-nation group including the United States, Russia and China due to resume negotiations with Iran in New York on September 18.

AFP: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to hold talks with top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton in Brussels Monday, following fresh US sanctions on entities linked to Tehran's nuclear programme. Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, has shepherded year-long talks between Iran and major powers, aiming for a comprehensive deal to end a decade-long dispute over the Islamic republic's nuclear activities.

Reuters: Iran said on Tuesday it would still address concerns about its nuclear programme, even though it missed a deadline last month for providing information about its suspected atomic bomb research. Western diplomats have often accused Iran of stonewalling the IAEA, but Najafi said: "There is no deadlock. We are sure we can implement that ... We are ready to complete that."

Reuters: Iran is far apart from the six world powers negotiating with it over scaling back its nuclear programme, but that gap could be narrowed in talks next week, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Monday. Iran and the powers failed to meet a July 20 target date for an agreement and are due to hold their first negotiating round since then in New York on Sept. 18. 

Reuters: Iran's possible response to new U.S. sanctions could "not be pleasant", its foreign minister said on Sunday, raising the prospect of tit-for-tat retribution against the Islamic Republic's old adversary weeks ahead of fresh nuclear talks. Iranian leaders reacted with dismay to Friday's announcement that Washington was going to penalise a number of Iranian and other foreign companies.

Reuters: Iran has failed to address concerns about suspected atomic bomb research by an agreed deadline, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday, a setback to hopes for an end to an international stand-off over Tehran's atomic activity. The lack of movement in an inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency will disappoint the West.


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