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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Excerpts: Economic upheaval in Syria, UN ready to visit Iran nuclear site if allowed 13 December 2012

Excerpts: Economic upheaval in Syria, UN 'ready' to visit Iran nuclear site
if allowed 13 December 2012

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 11 Dec. ’12:”Supplies of Mazout Fall, Banias
Refinery Suspends Production over Sanctions and Violence”

SUBJECT: Syria refinery work suspended

TEXT:International sanctions and attacks on pipelines have reduced
significantly the supplies of heating oil in Syria and suspended works at
the refinery of Banias, according to a government official

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 10 Dec.’12:”Provisions for Bad Loans Dent
profits at Syrian Bank”

SUBJECT: Business increasing difficulty in paying loans

TEXT:Provisions for bad debts at private sector Syrian banks rose sharply in
the third quarter of this year as businesses faced increasing difficulties
to reimburse their loans.

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 13 Dec.’12:”UN nuclear agency ‘ready’ to go to Iran’s
Parchin site”, Reuters
SUBJECT: UN ‘ready’ to visit Iran nuclear site if allowed

QUOTE: “UNJ nuclear inspectors . . . would be prepared to go to . . .Parchin
military complex if the Islamic state were to allow a visit”

FULL TEXT: VIENNA — UN nuclear inspectors travelling to Iran would be
prepared to go to its disputed Parchin military complex if the Islamic state
were to allow a visit during talks in Tehran this week, the head of their
delegation said on Wednesday12 Dec.].

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes Iran has conducted
explosives tests with possible nuclear applications at Parchin, a sprawling
facility southeast of the Iranian capital, and has repeatedly asked for
access.

Western diplomats say Iran has carried out extensive work at Parchin over
the past year — including demolition of buildings and removal of soil — to
cleanse it of any traces of illicit activity. But the IAEA says a visit
would still be “useful”.

Iran denies Western accusations of a covert bid to develop the means and
technologies needed to build nuclear arms. It says Parchin is a conventional
military site and has dismissed allegations of “sanitisation” there.

Thursday’s talks in Tehran — the first such meeting between the IAEA and
Iran since August — could indicate whether Iran is more willing to address
international concerns over its nuclear programme after US President Barack
Obama’s re-election.

The stakes are high: Israel — widely believed to be the Middle East’s only
nuclear-armed power — has threatened military action if diplomacy fails to
prevent its archenemy acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran says it would hit back
hard if attacked.

IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said the aim was to reach a
long-sought framework agreement on how to resolve outstanding issues
“related to possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“We also hope that Iran will allow us to go to the site of Parchin,”
Nackaerts told journalists at Vienna airport before departing for Tehran.
“If Iran would grant us access, we would welcome that chance and we are
ready to go.”

Some members of his team — which included senior experts on Iran and nuclear
weapons — carried metal cases apparently with the equipment they would need
to inspect a site like Parchin. Typically, they would take earth and other
samples there.

But Iranian atomic energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani gave no sign of any
green light to go to Parchin. The IAEA officials “will come to Tehran and
they will have discussions with our representatives here”, he told Iran’s
Mehr News Agency.

IAEA trip may be extended?

Western diplomats say they are not optimistic about a breakthrough in this
week’s discussions, since a series of meetings since January have failed to
make any progress.

But they do not rule out that Iran, under tightening Western sanctions
damaging its oil-dependent economy, will offer some concessions in an
attempt to relieve international pressure.

“I have no reason to believe there will be any significant progress but it
would be nice to be pleasantly surprised,” one envoy said, adding he did not
believe Iran had given any indication that access to Parchin might be
possible.

The IAEA wants Iran to allow its inspectors to visit sites, interview
officials and study documents as part of an inquiry — snarled by Iranian
non-cooperation since 2008 — into suspected past, and possibly current,
nuclear weapons research.

Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and rejects
international demands to curb atomic activity that could have both civilian
and military purposes.

It says it must agree a framework for the inquiry with the Vienna-based IAEA
before providing the requested access. Western officials see this condition
as procedural stalling by Iran.

Iran’s Kayhan newspaper — believed to reflect the views of Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — suggested the Iran-IAEA meeting could be extended
beyond the planned one day of talks.

“News has reached Kayhan that indicates that if the negotiations are
successful, there is the possibility their [the IAEA delegation’s] trip will
be lengthened,” it said.

The IAEA talks with Iran are separate from — but complementary to — efforts
by six world powers to resolve the decade-long nuclear dispute with Iran
before it degenerates into a new war that could send economic shock waves
around the world.

Diplomacy between Iran, a major oil exporter, and the United States, China,
Russia, France, Germany, and Britain has been deadlocked since a June
meeting that ended without success.

Both sides now say they want to resume talks soon — after Obama’s
re-election, which some analysts say may give fresh impetus to the search
for a negotiated settlement — and diplomats expect a new meeting early next
year

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Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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