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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The day of the Lord

'Pakistan, N. Korea aided Iran's nuclear program'

The next IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program will reveal that Tehran received assistance from several foreign countries, including Russia, Pakistan and North Korea, Western diplomats said Tuesday.

According to several media outlets, including the Washington Post, the UN's nuclear watchdog has concluded that Iran's nuclear program received assistance from Russian scientists on "how to build high-precision detonators that can be used to trigger nuclear chain reactions."

Former Soviet scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko was allegedly contacted by Iran's Physics Research Center in the mid-1990s to assist in its nuclear efforts. Documents obtained by the IAEA suggest he helped design a high-explosive device used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.

The UK's Daily Telegraph reported the some of the findings substantiate reports suggesting that Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is considered the "father" of Pakistan's atom bomb, gave Iran the necessary blueprints for a neutron initiator – a key element in nuclear bombs.

Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz facility (Photo: Reuters)

North Korean scientists have reportedly provided mathematical formulas and codes involved in designing a nuclear device.

The IAEA has reportedly obtained evidence supporting the claim that Iran has implemented a computer simulation of a nuclear warhead.

David Albright, a former IAEA official who reviewed the report's findings, was quoted as saying that Iran "has sufficient information to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device using highly enriched uranium as its fissile core."

While speculations about a possible strike against Iran's nuclear facilities have grown, the United States, UK and Russia have said that "tough diplomacy" has yet to be exhausted.

The international community is pushing for a new round of sanctions on Iran, which experts say are likely to have a more significant "bite."


6.8 quake strikes off Okinawa


A fairly strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 has hit off the shores Okinawa on Tuesday.

The quake occurred in the East China Sea, 218 kilometers west of Naha, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake’s depth was 222 kilometers.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake, which happened at 11:59 a.m.

Japan Today

Report: Sarkozy calls Netanyahu 'liar'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told US President Barack Obama that he could not "stand" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that he thinks the Israeli premier "is a liar."

According to a Monday report in the French website "Arret sur Images," after facing reporters for a G20 press conference on Thursday, the two presidents retired to a private room, to further discuss the matters of the day.

The conversation apparently began with President Obama criticizing Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO despite Washington's strong objection to the move.

און דה רקורד. האתר שהדליף את השיחה בין שני הנשיאים
Arret sur Images (Screenshot) 

The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: "I cannot stand him. He is a liar." According to the report, Obama replied: "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!"

The remark was naturally meant to be said in confidence, but the two leaders' microphones were accidently left on, making the would-be private comment embarrassingly public.

The communication faux pas went unnoticed for several minutes, during which the conversation between the two heads of state – which quickly reverted to other matters – was all but open to members the press, who were still in possession of headsets provided by the Elysée for the sake of simultaneous translation during the G20 press conference.

"By the time the (media) services at the Elysée realize it, it was on for at least three minutes," one journalist told the website. Still, he said that reporters "did not have a chance to take advantage of this fluke."

The surprising lack of coverage may be explained by a report alleging that journalists present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep mum on the embarrassing comments. A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments.
A member of the media confirmed Monday that "there were discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue."


Half of U.S. banks report Europe dealings

WASHINGTON – About one-half of top U.S. banks surveyed by the Federal Reserve reported making loans or extending credit to European banks, which are under massive pressure from an ongoing political crisis.

The findings from a quarterly lending poll suggested that the U.S. banking system faces significant risks from Europe, despite relatively small direct exposure to the troubled sovereign bonds of southern European states like Greece.

“About one-half of domestic bank respondents, mostly large banks, indicated that they make loans or extend credit lines to European banks or their affiliates or subsidiaries, and about two-thirds of the foreign respondents indicated the same,” the U.S. central bank said in its Senior Loan Officer Survey published on Monday.
Of the domestic banks, about two-thirds reported having tightened standards on loans to European financial institutions in the third quarter, many considerably.

Eurozone governments rushed to placate feverish bond markets on Monday as the currency bloc’s debt crisis threatened to accelerate out of control, with Italy overtaking Greece as the prime threat to stability.

Italian government bond yields rose to their highest since 1997 — approaching levels regarded as unsustainable — as political turmoil in Rome threatened to drag the eurozone’s third largest economy deeper into a regional debt crisis.

The Fed’s report was part of a wider quarterly survey on lending standards in the United States, which found fewer domestic banks loosened terms for corporate and industrial loans, another sign that growth will remain tepid.

In one bright spot, in the battered U.S. housing sector, reports of stronger mortgage demand outnumbered those of weaker demand for the first time since early 2010.

Financial Post

Russia accuses Israel of using 'dangerous rhetoric' against Iran

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Israel on Tuesday of using "dangerous rhetoric" that could lead to a war with Iran, amid rising tensions over the latter's nuclear program.

Speaking in Berlin after meeting his German counterpart Christian Wulff, Medvedev said a threatening atmosphere was being created by the Israelis, as media speculation abounded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were considering a military option against Iran.

"The threat of a military strike could lead to a major war," he warned, adding that it was now vital to calm the situation, "take a deep breath and open talks."

Moscow had repeatedly urged Tehran to prove to the world that its nuclear research was purely peaceful in its objectives. "Unfortunately there hasn't been any movement in this direction," said Medvedev, who was later to attend a ceremony to open an undersea gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Monday that a strike against Iran would be a grave mistake with unpredictable consequences: "This would be a very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences," he said.

Defense Minister Barak played down speculation Tuesday that Israel intended to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it had not decided to embark on any military operation.

"War is not a picnic. We want a picnic. We don't want a war," Barak told Israel Radio ahead of the release this week of an International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] report on Iran's nuclear activity. "[Israel] had not yet decided to embark on any operation."

But he said Israel had to prepare for "uncomfortable situations" and ultimately bore responsibility for its own security. All options to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions should
remain open, he said.

The IAEA report is widely expected to strengthen suspicions that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons despite its statements that its uranium enrichment programme is aimed at power generation.

"I estimate that it will be quite a harsh report ... it does not surprise Israel, we have been dealing with these issues for years," Barak said. "We are probably at the last opportunity for coordinated, international, lethal sanctions that will force Iran to stop."

The International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] is set to issue a report this week on Iran's nuclear activity. Western nuclear experts have told Haaretz, in anticipation of the IAEA report, that Iran will be ready to build a nuclear bomb within a few months if it desires.

Other experts, who have seen intelligence used in the compilation of the latest report, have said that Tehran already has the know-how, the technological means and the materials needed to put an atom bomb together within short order.

These experts have concluded that nuclear weapons engineers from Russia, Pakistan and North Korea have been assisting Iranian scientists in their efforts to reach nuclear capability. Haaretz published similar information last week, reporting that experts have said that Iran could carry out underground nuclear tests quite soon if it wants to.

France this week also warned Israel against taking a military options, saying it was seeking to harden sanctions instead.


Deutsche Bank on Europe: We Could Be In Full Crisis Mode By The End Of This Week'

Here's Deutsche Bank's Colin Tan talking about the same thing that everyone else is talking about:

Its not inconceivable that we could be in full crisis mode by the end of this week. The situation with Italy feels increasingly like one that has little chance of materially improving until some
extreme pressure is put on someone to act. It may not come to a head this week but the signs are not good that we can avoid an extreme situation emerging soon.

The big problem: Berlusconi doesn't seem like he's in an urgent mood to make reforms, the ECB isn't doing much, and China and Brazil have dropped out of the picture.

Hence we could get a big bustup:

For us there is no obvious near-term solution other than a stress event which prompts action. 

Maybe the EU authorities will use the experience learnt from the Greece situation last week that a hard-line response is the only way to force countries to act in the way they want. It is a big risk but at the moment the weaker countries seem to still want the Euro enough that the ECB and Germans could play hard ball and get what they want if they are prepared to take the risk. 

Indeed ECB Governing Council member Yves Mersch fired a warning over the weekend saying that the ECB often discusses the possibility of ending the purchase of Italian government bonds and could if it concludes Italy is not adopting promised reforms. 

Eurozone ministers fail to create €1 trillion bail-out fund

Despite publishing a more detailed mandate following a summit in Brussels, the Eurogroup delayed agreeing specifics on how to leverage the €440bn European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), risking further market turmoil ahead of votes on Tuesday that could topple Silvio Berlusconi's government.

The EFSF also pushed ahead with a 10-year bond auction which it had put off from last week because of lack of demand. The fund, which is supposed to be the eurozone's key weapon against the debt crisis, managed to raise €3bn but only after having to pay record returns to entice investors.

Joachim Fels of Morgan Stanley said: "The leveraged EFSF may still turn into a bazooka but so far it looks more like a water pistol."

The fund is hampered by uncertainty over Greece's bail-out and eurozone membership. The country is expected to announce the new head of its interim Government on Tuesday.

Italian government bond yields hit 14-year highs, crossing the threshold economists say is unsustainable for the country's €1.9 trillion debt pile. The yield on 10-year bonds soared to 6.68pc at one point, leading to frantic speculation that Italy will require an international bail-out.

The Italian parliament will vote today to ratify the 2010 state accounts and a raft of austerity measures which will also serve as a vote of confidence in Mr Berlusconi.

The Italian premier denied reports he was set to resign. However, rumours of his departure pushed the Milan stockmarket up more than 2pc and pulled bond yields down. Analysts said Italy has a "Berlusconi problem, not a financing problem".

After a choppy day on European bourses, the Italian market closed up 1.3pc while the Germany's DAX and France's CAC each fell 0.6pc. In London the FTSE 100 ended off 0.3pc.

Wolfgang Schauble, Germany's finance minister, said it was vital Rome approved mooted austerity measures. He told reporters: "Italy has to stick to what has been announced. If Italy will deliver, will reduce its debt, there is no problem."

Christine Lagarde warned the crisis was in a "dangerous" phase that is threatening the wider global economy. Speaking in Moscow, the International Monetary Fund chief said: "The economy in general is in a dangerous and uncertain phase. There is clearly a darkening outlook, rising risks. If the storm strengthens further in the euro area, emerging Europe as its closest neighbour would be severely hit."

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Britain would not become embroiled in the bail-outs. He told the House of Commons the G20 had a clear message: "Sort yourselves out and then we will help, not the other way round."

But a document prepared for the Eurogroup suggested the European Investment Bank (EIB) could provide up to €74bn of lending support over two years to continental banks. The UK is the EIB's biggest shareholder.

In addition, Fathom Consulting warned a disorderly default in the eurozone would trigger a recession requiring an extra £1 trillion of additional quantitative easing in the UK to keep to inflation targets.

George Osborne attended a meeting of "euro-outs" last night. The Chancellor is trying to drum up opposition to the financial transaction tax that Germany plans to push in today's meeting of EU finance ministers. The Eurogroup set another meeting for November 17. Failure to produce decisions may result in another G20 summit before Christmas.

The Telegraph

Euro is Greek word

Greece follow the rules or leave.....

Unemployment and Central Banks buying Gold