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Obama says Israel unlikely to surprise US with Iran attack
by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) July 8, 2010

New charges filed against Irish firm on Iran exports
Washington (AFP) July 7, 2010 - New charges were filed Wednesday against Irish-based Mac Aviation Group and its officers for allegedly exporting F-5 fighter aircraft parts and other military equipment to Iran, the US Justice Department said. In addition to the original charges against the firm unsealed in March 2009, two new charges allege a violations of the Arms Export Control Act, US officials said. The new charges were contained in a superseding indictment from a grand jury in Washington against Mac Aviation and its officers, Thomas and Sean McGuinn of Sligo, Ireland. The indictment said the firm purchased F-5 fighter aircraft parts, helicopter engines and other aircraft components from US firms and illegally exported them to Iran starting in 2005.

According to the indictment, the firm promised to deliver the parts to an Iranian trading company but concealed the final destination for the goods. The new indictment alleges that from 2005 until 2006, the defendants purchased canopy panels designed for the F-5 fighter aircraft, and falsely stated that the end user was the Republic of Nigeria. Instead, the panels were sold to Iran for 86,400 dollars. The two officers could face prison terms of between five and 20 years for each of the charges. The previous charges allege that Mac Aviation purchased 17 helicopter engines from Rolls-Royce in Indiana for 4.27 million dollars and exported them to Iran through companies in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

US President Barack Obama said in an Israeli TV interview broadcast on Thursday it is highly unlikely the Jewish state would surprise Washington with an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"It is unacceptable for Iran to posses nuclear weapons and we are going to do everything we can to prevent that happening," Obama told Israel's Channel 2 television in the interview taped on Wednesday.

"I think the relationship between the US and Israel is sufficiently strong that neither of us try to surprise each other," he said, when asked if he was concerned Israel could catch the US off guard with an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"We try to coordinate on issues of mutual concern and that approach is one Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu is committed to," Obama said.

Israel, which has the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, regards Iran as its principal threat after repeated predictions by the Islamic republic's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Jewish state's demise.

Along with the West, it suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, a claim Tehran denies.

Israel has backed US-led efforts to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability through sanctions, but has also refused to rule out military force.

In 1981, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor and reportedly also attacked a suspected Syrian nuclear facility in 2007.

Obama said despite Iranian denials, "all indicators are they are pursuing nuclear weapons," and preventing this was a priority for him.

"The single most important threat to Israel, Iran and its potential possession of a nuclear weapon, has been my number one foreign policy priority in the last 18 months," the US president said.

"We will continue to keep the door open for a diplomatic resolution of this challenge," he said, adding that "I assure you I have not taken options off the table."

Iran insists its nuclear programme is aimed solely at power generation and medical research and says the international community should focus its attention on Israel, which, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that new sanctions recently slapped on his country by Western nations would not alter Tehran's nuclear programme.

No matter how many sanctions resolutions are approved, "there will be no minor change in our nuclear programme," he said through a translator after attending a summit in Nigeria.

"Those resolutions are only paper. What's going to shape our future is our determination."

Obama gave the interview, his first to an Israeli channel since taking office, during a visit to the United States by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has been hailed as a fence-mending trip between the two leaders.

earlier related report
Ahmadinejad says sanctions will not alter nuclear drive
Abuja (AFP) July 8, 2010 - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that new sanctions slapped on his country would not alter Tehran's nuclear drive, remaining defiant in the face of growing Western pressure.

Speaking after meeting fellow Muslim leaders at a summit in Nigeria, the Iranian leader said no matter how many sanctions resolutions are approved, "there will be no minor change in our nuclear programme."

"Those resolutions are only paper," he said through a translator.

Ahmadinejad has been outspoken in his dismissal of the new sanctions, adopted by the UN Security Council and several Western governments, previously calling them a "used hanky which should be thrown in the dustbin."

But the head of Iran's atomic energy, Ali Akbar Salehi, acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that the measures "may slow down" its nuclear drive.

"One can't say sanctions are ineffective," Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Salehi as telling a press conference.

Ahmadinejad did not respond directly when asked about Salehi's comments after the summit, saying simply that Iran had "tremendous and huge resources."

"Those who have regulated and designed the resolutions against the Islamic republic of Iran need us more than we need them," he said.

Fresh UN Security Council sanctions were imposed on Iran on June 9, and both the United States and the European Union later took additional measures against Tehran unilaterally.

Western governments suspect Iran's nuclear programme is a cover for a weapons drive, something Tehran has repeatedly denied, maintaining it is aimed solely at power generation and medical research.

Ahmadinejad was in Nigeria -- which holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month -- for Thursday's one-day summit of the Developing Eight (D-8) group in Abuja.

The Istanbul-based D-8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with a total population of 930 million.

After arriving on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad called the United States a global dictator and lashed out at Israel.

Ahmadinejad's speech on Wednesday evening in the West African country, where Muslims make up an estimated half of the 150 million population, drew a rapturous welcome from the crowd, which chanted "Nigerians support Iran."

The aim of the Developing Eight (D8) summit was to improve trade among members, and it was unclear whether the new sanctions against Iran were addressed in the closed-door sessions.

It ended with a call for member nations to speed up progress on a plan to liberalise trade between them and for more cooperation on energy issues, according to the summit's final declaration.

Leaders at the summit had earlier lamented the fact that little progress has been achieved on boosting trade.

"The D8 has not been able to fully attain its objectives," said Malaysia's deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

A so-called preferential trade area, "which was supposed to be the blue-chip of our economic cooperation, had only been ratified by two member states... Malaysia and Iran," said Yassin.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who came to power in May after the death of his predecessor, Umaru Yar'Adua, took advantage of the talks to lobby for investment.

Despite its huge oil and gas resources, Nigeria is woefully short of electricity and fuel due to the poor condition of its refineries, which have been hampered by corruption.


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Iran sanctions 'slow down' nukes; Mousavi lashes out at Ahmadinejad
Tehran (AFP) July 7, 2010
Iran acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that newly imposed sanctions "may slow down" its nuclear drive, including its sensitive uranium enrichment work, but said it will not halt it. The comments by the head of Iran's atomic energy, Ali Akbar Salehi, were the first admission by a senior official of the impact of new UN sanctions imposed on June 9. "One can't say sanctions are i ... read more

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