An individual from Sierra Leone is accused of attempting to transfer 1,000 metric tons of powdered uranium “yellowcake” to U.S. operatives disguised as would-be traffickers to Iran, Reuters reported on Friday.
After authorities detained Patrick Campbell on Wednesday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the 33-year-old allegedly confessed to discussing the possible deal, federal attorneys said in a court filing. He had a small amount of uranium hidden in his baggage at the time of his detention, according to the document.
A federal judge could impose on Campbell a maximum of $1 million in penalties and two decades’ imprisonment if he is found guilty of charges including violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, which Washington suspects aims to develop a nuclear arms capacity under the guise of a peaceful atomic energy program.
Mined uranium is suited for conversion into yellowcake, which in turn can yield uranium hexafluoride suited for enrichment into material for civilian purposes or nuclear weapons.
Iran’s recently confirmed top diplomat has said “the possession of nuclear arms doesn’t conform with the interests of the country and threatens the security of Iran,” Agence France-Presse reported on Friday.
“We will show the world that there is no threat from Iran,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in comments reported by Iran’s Fars News Agency.
He suggested, though, that “Western leaders have not understood” the bottom line of President Hassan Rouhani’s victory at the polls in June.
“They think the government will waive [Iran’s atomic] rights,” Zarif said. “The United States and European countries must understand that the Iranian people will not give up their rights and no government can afford to do it.
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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.