Iran said on Monday it had launched a live monkey into space, seeking to show off missile systems that have alarmed the West because the technology could potentially be used to deliver a nuclear warhead.
The Defense Ministry announced the launch as world powers sought to agree a date and venue with Iran for resuming talks to resolve a standoff with the West over Tehran’s contested nuclear program before it degenerates into a new Middle East war.
Efforts to nail down a new meeting have failed repeatedly and the powers fear Iran is exploiting the diplomatic vacuum to hone the means to produce nuclear weapons.
The Islamic Republic denies seeking weapons capability and says it seeks only electricity from its uranium enrichment so it can export more of its considerable oil wealth.
A Reuters investigation has uncovered new evidence of how willing some foreign companies were to assist Iran’s state security network, and the regime’s keenness to access as much information as possible.
Documents seen by Reuters show that a partner of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd offered to sell a Huawei-developed “Lawful Interception Solution” to MobinNet, Iran’s first nationwide wireless broadband provider, just as MobinNet was preparing to launch in 2010.
The system’s capabilities included “supporting the special requirements from security agencies to monitor in real time the communication traffic between subscribers,” according to a proposal by Huawei’s Chinese partner seen by Reuters.
SPECIAL REPORT: How foreign firms tried to sell spy gear to Iran
At its gleaming store, RadanMac offers the latest Apple gear - the new iPad, iPhones, iPods, laptops, all-in-one desktop computers and more.
But this is no ordinary Apple store. It’s in Tehran, where Apple and other U.S. computer products are banned under U.S. sanctions that have been in place for years.
Despite the embargo, RadanMac is one of an estimated 100 stores in the Iranian capital that openly sell Apple products, often at little more than U.S. prices.
“Business has been booming for the last three years,” said Majid Tavassoli, the store’s owner, in a phone interview. He said his company employs more than 20 staffers and has been supplying Apple products to Iranian buyers since 1995.
The company also has a servicing unit and a business sales arm whose clients have included the Central Bank of Iran, state television channels, newspapers and design professionals.
The Iranian government has suspended the press accreditation for Reuters staff in Tehran after the publication of a video story on women’s martial arts training which contained an error.
Reuters, the news arm of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information group, corrected the story after the martial arts club where the video was filmed made a complaint.
The story’s headline, “Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran’s assassins”, was corrected to read “Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran”.
Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance subsequently contacted the Reuters Tehran bureau chief about the video and its publication, as a result of which Reuters’ 11 personnel were told to hand back their press cards.
Parents, instructors and students watch drills performed by fellow members of various Ninjutsu schools at a park in Karaj, 45 km (28 miles) northwest of Tehran February 13, 2012.
Currently about 3000 to 3500 women train in Ninjutsu in independently run clubs throughout Iran working under the supervision of the Ministry of Sports’ Martial Arts Federation. Picture taken February 13, 2012. [REUTERS/Caren Firouz]
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) attends the unveiling ceremony of new nuclear projects in Tehran February 15, 2012.
“The era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolize nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a live television broadcast.
“Our nuclear path will continue.”