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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Do you remember Elenin on Trumpets...Obama To Visit Denver Area On Sept. 27

President Barack Obama speaks on fiscal policy April 13, 2011 at George Washington University. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

DENVER (CBS4) – President Barack Obama will visit the Denver area as part of a series of stops in Western states to talk about the economy.

Obama will also be visiting several cities on the West Coast as part of his tour, according the White House.

So far it’s not clear where exactly the president will visit and what time of day he’ll be here.

The president’s last visit to the Denver area was February 2010.



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Coast to Coast September 5

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Iran's Security Council Secretary due in Russia

Iran's Security Council Secretary due in Russia

The Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili would depart for Russia, while Sergei Shmatko, Russian Energy Minister and Sergei Krinko the head of Russia's Nuclear Energy Agency would come to Iran, ISNA reported.

Iran’s embassy in Russia announced, "Sergei Shmatko will visit Iran heading a delegation to take part in Iran-Russia joint economic commission and the ceremony held for pre-launch of Bushehr nuclear power plant."

Shmatko is expected to leave Moscow on September 11-12 and Sergei Krinko would accompany him in his visit.

Iran-Russia joint economic commission would be held on September 11 in Tehran and Krinko would arrive on September 12.

Different issues will be examined in meetings such as transportation, custom, trade and industry. Environmental and energy cooperation between the two countries will be studied as well.

As to Russian Ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Dmitry Rogozin‘s visit to Tehran, Iran’s Embassy in Russia added "The visit would take place to discuss NATO further programs and its defense missile shield."

It continued," the exact time of the visit is not announced yet."

Also Iran’s embassy in Russia said, "Jalili is expected to take part in the meeting in which the secretaries of 40 counties' security councils will also participate." The meeting would be held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on September 21-22.

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Italy grinds to a halt as THREE million strike over €45bn (£39.5bn) austerity package

Italy ground to a halt today as a general strike brought thousands - if not millions - on to the street in protest at a belt-tightening €45billion (£39.5bn) austerity package.
The strike was organised by the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the country's biggest trade union, and saw disruption to flights, buses, trains as well as hospitals, schools, post offices and other government services.
Demonstrations were held in several cities across the country with extra police being drafted in to stop any potential disorder but there were still sporadic outbursts with eight officers hurt by fireworks.
Thousands of strikers took to the streets of Turin yesterday in protest at the austerity plans mooted by the Italian government
Thousands of strikers took to the streets of Turin yesterday to protest against the austerity plans mooted by the Italian government
Workers march in front of the Ancient Colosseum as they take part in a demonstration organised by the left-wing General Confederation of Italian Workers (CGIL) against the government's economic austerity measures, in central Rome
Workers march in front of the Colosseum as they take part in a demonstration organised by the left-wing General Confederation of Italian Workers (CGIL) against the government's economic austerity measures, in central Rome
The general-secretary of the CGIL, Susanna Camusso, addresses protesters at the Colosseum in Rome
The general-secretary of the CGIL, Susanna Camusso, addresses protesters at the Colosseum in Rome
CIGL officials said that three million people had taken part in the strike - which also affected the Amanda Knox appeal trial in Perugia as jury members using public transport were held up.
    The strike was supported by British trade union Unison chief Dave Prentis who sent a letter backing the action, expressing the 'solidarity' of his members with 'Italian workers'.
    Mr Prentis added that politicians across Europe were in a 'vicious circle that was increasing as opposed to reducing public debt because of austerity cuts.
    Under-pressure: Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, shown speaking last month, is widely unpopular in Italy now - and his austerity plans are hated
    Under-pressure: Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, shown speaking last month, is widely unpopular in Italy now - and his austerity plans are hated
    'What we and European trade unions are proposing as a way out of the crisis is growth - that's why we wish the best of luck to our colleagues in CGIL in their fight.'
    Italy, the third largest economy in the Eurozone, is teetering on the edge of a Greek-style financial crisis with a debt approaching £1trillion - 120 per cent of GDP.
    The under-pressure prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has insisted the best way to tackle the crisis is with the tough austerity package which will see cuts in education, health and pay freezes.
    But the proposed package has also been hit by backstabbing from within his coalition as supposed allies protest at some of the cuts and to appease them they are scrapped.
    Initially there had been plans to move three national bank holidays to Sundays to keep productivity going but this was dropped following a national outcry.
    Susanna Camusso, head of CGIL, said: 'When you are on the edge of the abyss, you have to take a step backwards. 
    'This is a general strike against a budget measure which is totally unjustified and as we have seen in the past few hours totally irresponsible.'
    Protesters who gathered in central Rome unfurled a banner that said: 'Change the austerity package to give a future to the country - more growth, more employment, more development.'
    One of the most affected areas was Rome airport which saw hundreds of flights cancelled and long queues at airline information desks as passengers tried to find out how to get away.
    Millions of Italians are holding a day-long strike against the government's latest austerity measures
    Millions of Italians are holding a day-long strike against the government's latest austerity measures
    Workers march and hold flags during a demonstration organised by the CGIL against the government's economic austerity measures
    Workers march and hold flags during a demonstration organised by the CGIL against the government's economic austerity measures
    People take part in a protest of the Italian USB union and against the plans to chop ¿45bn from the economy
    People take part in a protest of the Italian USB union and against the plans to chop ¿45bn from the economy
    Ryanair said that 200 of its flights were cancelled across the country as a result of the strike with pilots and crew joining the walkout as well as ground staff and some air traffic controllers.
    Trains and buses were also hit and traffic, which is chaotic at the best of times in Italy, was made even worse as people used cars to get to work or take children to school.
    Production was also affected at Fiat plants across the country with 25 per cent of the workforce taking part and newspapers were also hit with presses stopping printing.
    Italian markets which have suffered huge losses over the last few days were also significantly down as well with the Milan stock exchange showing a drop of more than 2 per cent.
    Tonight extra police were also drafted in to protect the Italian Senate where the package was to be debated after paint and smoke bombs were hurled by marchers.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2034352/Italy-strike-THREE-million-protest-austerity-package.html#ixzz1XHI6pHUx

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    Turkey set to sign military pact with Egypt, after cutting trade ties with Israel

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan

    A military and economic alliance with Egypt is set to be signed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The deal should be clinched when Erdogan visits Cairo next Monday - the first such visit paid by a Turkish prime minister in 15 years.

    The alliance is not intended as "revenge" against Israel; Erdogan's intention is to extend Turkey's influence to areas it has not reached in past decades.

    Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt rejected Turkish overtures; Mubarak viewed Erdogan as an interloper in regions that were under Egypt's, and Saudi Arabia's, influence. The new Egyptian government, however, seems eager to develop economic and strategic ties with Turkey.

    After keeping mum on the subject of sanctions on Israel for three days, Erdogan has made his position clear: He believes that Israel-Turkey relations are not a personal matter between himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but rather a Turkish national interest.

    Erdogan decided on Tuesday to reap the political profit from his stand against Israel, and announced to reporters that Turkey is suspending military and commercial relations with it. Additional sanctions, he suggested, could be implemented, and Turkish warships will be seen "more frequently" in Mediterranean waters.

    "If steps taken up to now were part of plan B [designed to force Israel to apologize for its actions in last year's Gaza flotilla incident, and pay compensation], there will also be plan C," declared Erdogan. "Israel has always acted as a spoiled child in response to UN resolutions pertaining to it. Israel assumes that it can continue to act like a spoiled child, and evade punishment."

    Subsequently Erdogan's office clarified that private trade relations are not subsumed by the sanctions; these commercial ties are valued at three billion dollars a year. Instead, military agreements are being suspended. This clarification was issued after Turkish businessmen demanded to know whether they are being required to cut off ties with Israel, lest they face legal punishment.

    The alacrity with which Turkey reached its decision to impose sanctions derives partly from the fact that it believes Israel is responsible for leaking the UN's report on the flotilla to Gaza. Turkish sources insist that Israel made a U-turn regarding the UN investigation, since it originally demanded that the report's release be deferred.

    "We agreed to defer release of the report for a few weeks, but not for six months, as Netanyahu wanted," one senior Turkish official explained. "We could have discussed issues regarding the text's formulation, and even forged an agreement, but Israel's leak of the document broke all the rules."

    This demonstration of strength against Israel is backed by the senior leadership of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party. However, some members of the party have doubts about specific steps taken by Erdogan.

    "Sometimes the prime minister acts on gut feelings, and then later tries to repair what he's done," explained one member of parliament who asked to remain anonymous. "But you have to distinguish between Turkey's widespread support for the demand that Israel apologize and pay compensations, and criticism about the country's diplomatic procedures. We were the ones who demanded that an international investigatory panel be formed; we send a delegate, and now we must come out and challenge the panel's conclusions. The report does not order Israel to apologize; instead it merely recommends that Israel express regret. In other words, there is a need to discuss the matter with Israel and work out acceptable language," the parliamentarian said.

    Turkey's media is divided in its response to Erdogan's actions regarding Israel. "Was there really a war that we have to win?" asked Murat Yetkin, a prominent journalist for Hurriyet Daily News. "The answer to this question is simple. No, there is no such war."

    Yusuf Kanli, former editor of the Turkish Daily News, wrote that, "were the Turkish government to respond to developments in the Middle East with a less emotional, non-religious attitude, relations between Israel and Turkey would not degenerate to their current state."

    In contrast, Prof. Aysan Dey from Ankara suggested that Israel ought to get used to the fact that this is a "new Turkey," that Israel must realize this is not the 1990s when Israel maintained working relations with the Turkish government and the Turkish army, "and showed disdain for what the public really wanted."

    Recently, the foreign policy of the "new" Turkey suffered a blow when Syria ignored Turkey's "advice," and when Iran decided to criticize the Turks for their policy toward Syria. Turkey is now trying to rebuild its foreign policy, founding it upon a new strategy of appealing to resurgent Arab states such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and the nascent state of Palestine.

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    Celente about close the economic collapse

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    Iran runs nuclear missile payload tests, moves onto 60 pc fuel enrichment

    International Atomic Energy Agency Friday, Sept. 2 stressed its increasing concern "about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the Agency continues to receive new information."

    The nuclear watchdog was also alarmed by three disclosures made by Fereydoon Abbas, head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Monday, Aug. 29, attesting to the speeding-up of its military nuclear program and preparations for a possible attack on its installations.
    1. Abbasi boasted that Iran's nuclear fuel production already far exceeded its needs.DEBKAfile's military sources report that this first public announcement meant that Tehran was about to move on from 20 percent enriched uranium to 60 percent – the last step before the 90 percent enrichment for weapons-grade fuel.

    According to several sources, Iran has already stocked 4,500 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, which would be enough for four nuclear weapons after further enrichment.
    2. Abbas pronounced "dead" the 2009 proposal for the West to supply Iran with new fuel for its small research reactor in return for an end to Iranian production of the fuel. “We will no longer negotiate a fuel swap and a halt to our production of fuel,” he said.

    3. The head of Iran's atomic agency also revealed the imminent transfer of its critical enrichment facilities from Natanz to a heavily fortified subterranean facility near the holy city of Qom to keep it safe from air, missile and cyber attack.

    Tehran has made it clear that the facility will not be open to international oversight and will use the most advanced centrifuges – IR-4 and IR-2m - for speeding up the production of highly-enriched uranium.

    Western intelligence sources estimated Sunday, Sept. 4, that Iran's advances had brought forward to the spring of 2012 the potential completion of between two and four bombs and the ability to conduct a nuclear test.

    At the White House, Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council said that the Iranian plan “to install and operate centrifuges at Qom is a violation of their United Nations security obligations and another provocative act.”

    While demonstrating the arrogance of a would-be global nuclear power, Iran suffered an unexpected diplomatic snub Sunday, Sept. 4, when parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani was informed at the last minute that he would not get to meet the Chinese and North Korean heads of state when he visited Beijing and Pyongyang – only low-ranking officials. He thereupon cancelled his trips.
    China and North Korea appear to have decided to keep their distance from the nuclear miscreant in Tehran.
    Last Wednesday, Aug. 31, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned, "Iran's attempts to build long-range missiles and nuclear weapons could lead unnamed countries to launch a pre-emptive attack."

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    German austerity drive risks Euro-slump

    german flag flying fluttering on flagpole outside reichstag building Berlin Germany

    “The next tranche can be paid only when the conditions have been met. There is no room for manouvre here,” he told the Bundestag. Yields on 10-year Greek debt spiked to a fresh record of 19.8pc on fears of a disorderly default.

    The tough words reflect sentiment in Berlin that Greece should be left to its fate or even be ejected from the monetary union, even though the chief reason Greece has failed to meet its deficit target is the crushing effect of recession. The economy will have shrunk by 12pc by the end of this year, playing havoc with debt dynamics.

    Mr Schäuble rebuffed calls from the International Monetary Fund for a softening of Europe’s austerity drive. “Piling on more debt now will stunt rather than stimulate growth in the long run. Highly indebted Western democracies need to cut expenditures, increase revenues and remove structural hindrances in their economies, however politically painful,” he wrote.

    German insistence on deflation polices is causing near universal despair. Spain’s leader Jose Luis Zapatero - who told union leaders at a closed-door gathering that the economy was “sliding into the abyss” - called for global action “through the G7 or the G20” to shore up Europe’s financial system.

    Berkeley professor Barry Eichengreen said Europe’s rescue fund (EFSF) is too small to save the eurozone, leaving the creditor powers of Asia as the last hope. “Europe’s leaders have shown themselves incapable of breaking the vicious cycle, raising the danger of the European crisis becoming a global crisis. It is now past due time for the IMF and G20 to intervene,” he said.

    “Asia’s own stability hinges on the stability of the world economy,” he said, callling for a variant of the "Brady bond" plan used in Latin America.

    Charles Dumas from Lombard Street Research said German policies - enforced by EU bodies - will doom the eurozone to a slump. “Here is the stubborn folly of the sound-money men of the 1930s,” he said.

    “Pursuit of debt reduction by deflation only - in a world whose savings rate is already at an all-time high - means Euroland recession next year could well be prolonged and deepened into depression. At the root of this are fallacious and malignant policies,” he said.

    Mr Dumas said Germany is not only pursuing a “predatory trade policy” within EMU through a misaligned currency but is also blindly forcing a downward slide for the whole system by compelling the deficit states to choke demand without offsetting stimulus in Germany and creditor states.

    German factory orders fell 2.8pc in July and confidence indicators have plunged, suggesting that Germany itself may be near recession. Car parts giant Bosch said the economy was in an “extremely critical condition”.

    Political pain was in evidence in cities across Italy on Tuesday as protesters scuffled with police and trade unions launched a general strike to protest austerity.

    Italy’s cabinet agreed to further measures to stave off a spiralling debt crisis, accepting a rise in value added tax from 20pc to 21pc, a higher retirement age for women after 2014, and a 3pc wealth tax on those earning more than €500,000, on top of swingeing cuts to the regions.

    Premier Silvio Berlusconi appeared to backslide last week. He was forced to submit after Italy’s 10-year yields surged to 5.57pc and spreads over Bunds hit fresh highs.

    Yields had dropped earlier to 5pc after the European Central Bank launched mass bond purchases. However, the ECB is switching intervention on and off to pressure the government. Mario Draghi, the Bank of Italy’s governor and the ECB’s next chief, said Rome should not “count on” intervention.

    Separately, Slovakia said its parliament would not ratify the July deal to boost the EFSF rescue fund before December, meaning that it will not be operational before February. It is unclear whether the ECB can step in to hold the line in Italy and Spain for that long.

    An internal vote on the EFSF package by parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in Germany showed that 25 of her Bundestag deputies will vote against the measure or abstain, risking the downfall of the government.

    Germany’s consitutional court is expected to demand further powers for the Bundestag when it rules on the legality of Europe’s bail-out machinery on Wednesday. There is an outside “tail risk” that it will go further, restricting Germany’s ability to participate in rescues until there is a fresh EU Treaty. That would be an earthquake.

    The Telegraph

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    Fears of eurozone contagion spread

    Mark Renders/Getty Images

    The eurozone’s attempts to defend itself against the spread of contagion are showing signs of failure on almost every front, putting a global financial crisis originating in Europe back on the table.

    Political divisions between the core and the periphery increasingly threaten the emergency measures keeping the region afloat, making an orderly solution to the sovereign debt crisis look increasingly doubtful.

    “Our new baseline outlook includes widespread bank and financial institution failures in Euroland,” Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note.

    “We fear a global economic depression — less severe in North America — originating in Euroland’s sovereign debt crisis and banking sector fragility,” he said.

    What began as a problem of excessive debt and unsustainable finances in Greece, a nation of only 11 million accounting for a paltry share of the region’s output, is now showing troubling similarities to 2008, when risky mortgage-backed securities in the United States set off a financial cataclysm.

    The eurozone’s peripheral countries are surviving on emergency financing extended primarily by the region’s twin powers — Germany and France — as well as the European Central Bank. That support has been made conditional on the enactment of fiscal austerity.

    But that arrangement now appears on the verge of collapse, with citizens of the core countries resentful of bankrolling bailouts and taxpayers in the periphery lashing out against drastic budget cuts and reduced entitlements.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a steep political price for her support of bailouts, having suffered her fifth election loss this year in a regional vote over the weekend.

    “The vote sends out a very clear message,” Lena Komileva, global head of G10 strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, said in a note. “German taxpayers refuse to leverage their future pensions to protect the euro in its current 17-member form, and they are not alone.”

    Opposition to additional aid brings into question the viability of future emergency funding designed to stem contagion, a point of concern exacerbated by Finland’s demand for collateral as a condition for further loans to Greece.

    Meanwhile, resistance is gaining potency for those on the receiving end of aid as well.

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has signalled a tenuous commitment to austerity after refusing to legislate all the deficit-cutting measures he promised last month in return for support for its bond market by the ECB.

    Still, Mr. Berlusconi’s revised plan sparked a general strike Tuesday in Italy, setting the stage for a confidence vote in the Italian Parliament on Wednesday.

    Greek austerity, meanwhile, has proven ineffective, with its projected deficit for 2011 of up to 9%, well in excess of its 7.6% target, a miss some economists attribute to the austerity measures themselves.

    “The slash-and-burn austerity programme has hammered demand and incomes, so that tax receipts are falling, despite the attempt to collect more,” Charles Dumas, chief economist at Lombard Street Research, said in a note. “No amount of austerity will put this right — GDP will simply slide away from under, destroying revenue, boosting relief expenditure and cutting the GDP denominator of all the relevant ratios.”

    Collectively, the deteriorating relationship between the core and the periphery strained European equities, government bonds and the euro this week. The German benchmark DAX index, for example, plunged 5.3% on Monday, and a further 1% on Tuesday.

    The possibility of the crisis getting away from policy makers has the region’s bankers openly contemplating the worst.

    This “is not just a financial crisis,” Federico Ghizzoni, the head UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank, said in Frankfurt Tuesday. “For the first time, the European system is really at stake.”

    To preserve the currency union, limit contagion and keep banks functioning, EU officials need to implement the €440-billion joint rescue fund agreed to in July as soon as possible, said Mark McCormick, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

    The ECB needs to keep buying up the bonds of peripheral countries, he said. “I think it’s possible they can still muddle through this.”
    Financial Post

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    Euro zone done?

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    Germany must quit eurozone

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    Abandons floating exchange rate Is a huge mistake for Switzerland

    The move will work for a while, but the market will have more money in the end than the SNB. The Swiss central bank risks losing a lot of money buying up lots of foreign currencies which they will eventually sell at a loss.

    Another risk is that the central bank will totally debase the Swiss franc trying to keep Switzerland 'competitive' which will then destroy the traditional Swiss financial industry. Rogers said.

    So this is a huge mistake for Switzerland since they are going to suffer more either way. - in CNBC

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    Switzerland abandons floating exchange rate in dramatic 'currency war' twist

    A hand moves 100 Swiss francs notes with 1000 Swiss francs notes as background

    The Swiss national bank (SNB) said it would “no longer tolerate” a euro rate below 1.20 francs. “The SNB will enforce this minimum rate with the utmost determination and is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities. The massive overvaluation of the franc poses an acute threat to the Swiss economy and carries the risk of a deflationary development,” it said.

    The franc plummeted against all major currencies, falling 9pc against the euro as markets opened on Tuesday. The Swiss action will be studied closely in Norway, Singapore and above all Japan, where the yen has also rocketed to levels that threaten to blight exporters and tip the country into deep deflation.

    “The market must fear this will lead to a sharp escalation in currency wars,” said David Bloom from HSBC. “Gold is the only safe haven asset that will not do QE, put in capital controls or complain.”

    Mr Bloom said the Swiss move will exacerbate Europe’s debt crisis by widening the spreads betweeen core EMU and the periphery. “This is a risky policy for the Swiss,” he said.

    Simon Derrick from BNY Mellon said the Swiss are restricting EMU debt purchases to German and French bonds, unlike earlier rounds of intervention. “The SNB is just as keen to have a safe-haven for its money as any other investors. It is recycling money leaving southern Europe into northern Europe. This is the darker message,” he said.

    Japan has warned that it may intervene at any moment, especially if the US weakens the dollar by printing more money (QE). Michael Saunders from Citigroup said Britain may beat them to it. “We suspect the UK will be the next central bank to reach into the unconventional tool box, with a decision to restart QE on Thursday,” he said.

    The Swiss economy is at risk of crippling damage appreciating from CHF 1.7 against the euro in 2008 to near parity in August. Currency hedges have protected Swiss firms until now but these contracts are expiring, leaving exporters nakedly exposed.

    The SNB was forced to act once global recovery stalled and Europe’s debt crisis metastasized. The minimim floor is a copy of the bank’s desperate strategy - after all else failed - in October 1978. It did stabilize the franc at that time but at a very high cost.

    The flood of liquidity from “unsterilized” interventions stored up all kinds of problems. “Inflation skyrocketed, reaching over 7pc in 1981,” said Paul Mackel from HSBC.

    The SNB said in July that it had already lost 9.9bn francs from intervention this year. This is a political hot potato. There are already calls from the Swiss parliament for heads to roll.

    The Telegraph

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    Iran set to roll out advanced uranium enrichment machines

    Machines could speed up production of nuclear reactor fuel as well as weapons-grade material

    Iran is making headway towards rolling out advanced uranium enrichment machines that could speed up its production of nuclear reactor fuel as well as weapons-grade material if, as the West fears, it ultimately tries to assemble atomic bombs.

    But it remains unclear whether Tehran, under increasingly strict international sanctions that crimp its ability to import key components, can manufacture the machines in industrial-scale numbers that would revolutionize its enrichment activity.

    For years, Tehran has been seeking to replace the breakdown-prone 1970s vintage model of centrifuge it now uses to refine uranium, but the changeover has been hampered by sanctions restricting access to vital components, analysts say.

    Nuclear facility at Natanz (Photo: AP)

    In a sign the Islamic state may now be making some progress, a UN nuclear watchdog report says Iran has begun installing two newer versions for larger-scale testing at a research and development site near the central city of Natanz.

    The confidential report, obtained by Reuters on Friday, says Iran informed the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in June that it had also started to operate 54 of these more advanced machines on an experimental basis.

    If Iran eventually succeeds in introducing them in industrial quantities for enrichment, it could significantly shorten the time needed to stockpile material that can have civilian as well as military purposes, if refined much further.
    "The installation of ... IR-2s and IR-4s represents progress, for sure," nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick said, referring to the names of the new models.

    But analysts said it was not evident that Tehran has the technical prowess and components to make them in bigger numbers.

    It seems that "Iran still faces problems developing these new centrifuges, including getting sufficient materials to build them in large numbers," said Peter Crail of the Arms Control Association, a US- based research and advocacy group.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Natanz (Photo: AFP)

    In a sign that deployment of the more advanced models for production remains some time off, Iran is planning to use the old IR-1 model when it shifts higher-grade enrichment from its main Natanz plant to a bunker near the holy city of Qom.
    "Although Iran could possibly use these (IR-1) machines to produce weapons-grade uranium ... it would likely prefer to develop its advanced centrifuges first," Crail said.

    Iran denies Western accusations that it is covertly seeking nuclear weapons capability, saying it is refining uranium for electricity generation and medical applications.

    But the IAEA report said the U.N. agency was "increasingly concerned" about possible work in Iran to develop a nuclear payload for a missile.

    This and other findings in the report may provide more grist for Western condemnations of Iran's nuclear activities when the 35-nation governing board of the IAEA meets on Sept. 12-16.

    Underground bunker

    Tehran's refusal to shelve enrichment has drawn four rounds of UN sanctions, as well as increasingly tough U.S. and European punitive measures on the major oil producer.

    Robert Einhorn, the US State Department senior adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, said in March he did not believe the newer centrifuges were ready to be mass-produced, according to a think tank debate transcript.

    Fitzpatrick, a director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and a former senior US State Department official, said Iran's ability to make high-strength carbon fibre for rotors in advanced centrifuges was believed to limited.

    "So how many more than can produce is an open question."

    Iran's main enrichment production facility is also located at the Natanz complex, which is ringed by anti-aircraft guns to protect against any threatened Israeli or US air strikes.

    Thousands of old model centrifuges spin at supersonic speeds in an underground hall to increase the fissile isotope ratio.

    Western experts say tightening sanctions, technical woes and possible cyber sabotage have slowed Iran's atomic advances. But it is still steadily amassing low-enriched uranium.

    Iran's decision in early 2010 to raise the level of some enrichment from the 3.5 percent purity needed for normal power plant fuel to 20 percent worried Western states that saw this as a significant step towards the 90 percent needed for bombs.

    Iran says it needs 20 percent uranium to convert into fuel for a research reactor making isotopes to treat cancer patients, and announced in June it would transfer this activity from Natanz to the Fordow subterranean site.

    Shifting enrichment underground could offer greater protection against any attacks by Israel or the United States, which have both said they do not rule out pre-emptive strikes to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons.


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