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Iran claimed to have watered down over 440 pounds of enriched uranium pursuant to its agreement with world powers, and offered to redesign the Arak heavy water reactor to reduce plutonium output. Tehran criticized the US decision that applied Iran sanctions law to seize a Manhattan skyscraper and sell the assets. A Senate bill that withholds US visa approval for any UN nominee who has been involved in terrorism was signed into law yesterday, impeding the appointment of Hamid Aboutalebi, Iran's proposed ambassador to the UN, who is linked to the 1979 hostage crisis.




President Rouhani declared yesterday that Iran has decided on principle not to develop weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. He also said the Iranian government's foreign policy is now "based on easing tensions and building confidence with the world." State media said five border guards who had been kidnapped in Pakistan were freed.




As part of seven promised "confidence-building" measures on its nuclear program due for completion by May 15, Iran agreed to provide information to the IAEA on its detonators. A top IAEA official said progress at the Feb. 8-9 talks was good but much work remains to be done to examine possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear program. Iran claimed to have successfully test-fired two new missiles, an advanced ballistic missile with a fragmentation warhead and a laser-guided surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missile.




The commander of the Northern Navy Fleet said Iran is sending several warships on a three-month mission in the Atlantic Ocean that will take Iranian ships close to US maritime borders for the first time. In a meeting in Tehran with a top official of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, called Israel the main threat to Middle East peace, urged PIJ to maintain unity, and said the conflict in Syria was an important lesson for the Islamic resistance front.




Foreign Minister Zarif urged all foreign fighters to leave Syria and called on foreign forces to stop "stop funneling funds, money and arms" into Syria. The UN's nuclear watchdog agency asked for funds so it can nearly double the number of personnel working to verify Iran's compliance with the recent agreement on its nuclear program.




The UN withdrew its invitation to Iran to attend the Geneva II talks, after pressure by the US, Saudi Arabia, and the Syrian opposition. As part of the recent nuclear agreement, Iran suspended sensitive enrichment activities and world powers lifted some sanctions in response.




Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, claimed that improvements in Hezbollah's missile capabilities now enable the group to hit targets accurately anywhere in Israel. Hezbollah is thought to have recently moved various types of missiles from Syria into Lebanon, including the long-range Scud D missile, the medium-range Fateh missile, the shorter-range Scud C, and the Fajr rocket.




State TV quoted Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as claiming that Iran has decided to not put 1,000 second generation centrifuges into operation at one of its nuclear fuel enrichment sites. Salehi also said Iran currently has 19,000 operating centrifuges, and is now developing third and fourth generation-type centrifuges, and that Tehran is in discussions with Moscow over the construction of four new nuclear power plants in Iran.




Foreign Minister Zarif said Iran will never participate in talks with Israel. Iran's ambassador to Turkey noted that cooperation has improved between the Iranian intelligence and security services and Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation, and said Iran has offered to help Turkey mend ties with Syria.




Iranian officials and the EU announced that a deal has been reached between Iran and the six world powers on the Iranian nuclear program. It provides that Iran will suspend enrichment of higher-grade uranium for six months in exchange for $6 billion to $7 billion in US sanctions relief as well as renewed trade in metals, aircraft parts, and petrochemicals. Israel sharply criticized the deal as giving Iran time to move closer to developing nuclear weapons.




Iran signed a pact yesterday with the IAEA giving it "managed access" to some of the country's nuclear facilities, but not to its most sensitive sites, including the Parchin complex. President Rouhani transferred the work of the "modesty project," which attempts to enforce Islamic dress codes on women, from the police to the Ministry of the Interior.




Iran and the US blamed each other for failing to come to an agreement about Iran's nuclear program in recent talks. An investigation shows that the business empire controlled by Supreme Leader Khamenei is worth about $95 billion, some 40% more than Iran's total oil exports last year, which amounted to $67.4 billion.




A lawmaker claimed that Iran has "hundreds" of troops in Syria assisting Assad regime forces; the IRGC countered that "Iran has only advisers in Syria to transfer its military experience to the Syrian army." Iran entered talks with world powers in Geneva about its nuclear program. The Sunni militant group Jaish-ul Adl claimed the recent assassination of a prosecutor in Zabol.




Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the former US Embassy in Tehran on the 34th anniversary of its seizure, chanting "Death to America," in the largest such gathering in years. President Rouhani said he was "not optimistic" about negotiations with the West on Iran's nuclear program, and Supreme Leader Khamenei said, "No one should see our negotiating team as compromisers."




A new report estimates that Iran may be only a month away from having enough weapons-grade uranium to produce a bomb; the Obama administration has estimated that Iran is six months away from that capability. In the past 12 months, Iran has nearly doubled its stockpile of medium-grade uranium and has increased its number of centrifuges to 19,000 from 12,000. Four Christians were sentenced to 80 lashes for drinking communion wine. A UN report said non-Muslims in Iran are routinely punished for violating Islamic laws.




Ansar Iran, a Sunni jihadist group, released a video threatening retaliation in the event of Iranian attempts to dismantle the group's camps. EU head Catherine Ashton said the next round of talks on Iran's nuclear program will begin in November. Talks today ended with no breakthrough, despite Iran's offer to allow unannounced IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities.




Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi rejected the West's demand that enriched uranium be shipped out of the country. Speaking of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, US Secretary of State Kerry said that "no deal is better than a bad deal."




The exiled dissident National Council of Resistance claimed that Iran is quietly moving a nuclear weaponization research and planning center to a site in a defense ministry complex in Tehran ahead of talks with world powers on the Iranian nuclear program. Semi-official media said "counterrevolutionary armed guerrillas" killed five members of the Revolutionary Guards near the Kurdish town of Baneh, close to the Iraqi border.




Authorities arrested four people suspected of trying to sabotage one of Iran's nuclear plants. Iran's nuclear chief said a couple of acts of sabotage had been foiled.




Mojtaba Ahmadi, the head of Iran's Cyber Warfare command, was found dead in a woods outside Karaj over the weekend. He had been assassinated at close range. Iran is preparing a proposal for upcoming talks on its nuclear program; the proposal will insist on the ability to enrich uranium domestically and to take advantage of nuclear technology.


 
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