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Iran IV


An “alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear program,” Jackie Sanders, the American ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned at the IAEA’s Board meeting in Vienna today.

The Agence France Presse report from which I’ve drawn this remark continued (March 2):

Sanders said Iran had continued to deny UN inspectors “the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties” and that Tehran was “cynically” manipulating “the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Sanders, who is based in Geneva but heads the US delegation to the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the United States wants the IAEA to bring Iran before the UN Security Council.

“The Security Council has the authority to require that Iran take all necessary corrective measures, including those steps called for by the (IAEA) board that Iran has failed to take,” Sanders said.

She said these included “the authority to require and enforce a suspension of Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.”

Sanders said IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei should report to the agency’s board ahead of its next meeting in June, after not having reported to the current meeting, as this would clear the way to action against Iran if necessary.

Presumably, the Ambassador’s charges are based on something other than American fears, American policy needs, and American fabrications. That is to say (again presumably), from hard evidence derived from the IAEA’s now-more-than-12-months-worth of enhanced inspections of Iranian sites, the government in Tehran formally having signed the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in December, 2003.—So what, then, has the IAEA been reporting about the Iranian sites?

Over the course of the past four months, the IAEA has produced two official assessments of the Iranian nuclear program. Namely:

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2004/83), November 15, 2004
Statement to the Board of Governors,” Pierre Goldschmidt, International Atomic Energy Agency, March 1, 2005

When over the course of the first three days of the current IAEA Board meeting in Vienna, U.S. political figures and crack reporters for some of the prestigious English-speaking news media have stated that the Iranians are lying about their nuclear program, that they are concealing its true intention, and that the “international community” should ultimately refer all questions about it to the UN Security Council, these are the two official sources of evidence to which they could have been referring. If they are referring to anything known and knowable, that is. Otherwise, they are doing little more than pulling allegations from up their sleeves. Or, in the case of the reporters following this saga, they are passing along the allegations that official (almost exclusively U.S.—not even the U.K. Government of Tony Blair will toe this crooked of a line any more) sources have pulled from up their sleeves.

Thus, Associated Press also reports today that “The United States accused Iran of ‘cynically’ pursuing nuclear weapons, saying Tehran’s claims that its aims are peaceful constitute willful deceit of the world.” The charge, made by the American Ambassador, was “in response to an IAEA update on Iran’s nuclear record after more than two years of examination by the agency,” AP continues. “The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations,” AP quotes Jackie Sanders—the logical impossibility of the IAEA’s inspectors ever meeting the truth conditions of the statement having slipped past nearly everyone. “Tehran, she said, was guilty of ‘cynically’ manipulating the Nonproliferation Treaty and related programs ‘in the pursuit of nuclear weapons’.”

Anyone interested in comparing the policy-driven fabrications of the kind that came from the mouth of the American Ambassador today to what Pierre Goldschmidt, the head of the IAEA’s Safeguards Department and the flesh-and-blood individual who actually briefed the IAEA Board in Vienna yesterday (ostensibly, it was this briefing to which the American Ambassador was responding), consider what Goldschmidt plainly stated in his opening remarks:

Since the November 2004 meeting of the Board of Governors, Iran has facilitated in a timely manner Agency access to nuclear material and facilities under its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.

Everything else that Goldschmidt’s modest report to the Board documented—issues related to Iran’s centrifuge program, its subterranean excavation of tunnels near one facility in particular, the development of a heavy-water reactor, allegations about “dual-use” technology, efforts to “verify all elements of Iran’s voluntary suspension of all enrichment related and reprocessing activities” (a major purpose behind Russia’s effort to provide a secure supply of already-enriched uranium to Iran), and the like—came down on the side of Iranian compliance with the inspection demands that have been made of it—if always with the caveat that the more thorough the compliance, the greater the IAEA’s confidence that Iran is complying.

But reading around the last three days-worth of newspaper or wire-service coverage of Ambassador Sanders’ remarks this morning, you’d never learn this. Instead, this morning’s Los Angeles Times and New York Times both developed a line of doctrine that simply rejected what the IAEA’s Goldschmidt had just reported to the Board. Both newspapers, that is, led with the framework of American rejection of Iranian compliance:

Iran turned down a request by United Nations nuclear monitors for a second inspection of a military site, and an Iranian representative said Tuesday that a permanent moratorium on uranium enrichment was “not on the table.” (Alissa J. Rubin, “Iran Yields Little in Talks With Monitors,” Los Angeles Times, March 2)

The United Nations nuclear watchdog on Tuesday listed several instances where Iran had blocked investigation of its nuclear development program or failed to provide information sought by the agency. (Richard Bernstein, “Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Blocked Investigation,” New York Times, March 2)

Remember: These were just the opening paragraphs. Throughout both reports, the status of the Iranian nuclear program (i.e., for war or peace?) and the status of the IAEA’s knowledge about the program (i.e., what evidence does the IAEA possess?) were refracted through Washington’s insistence that Iran must be pursuing nuclear energy to build nuclear weapons, while Washington also insists that the IAEA is incapable of discovering the true nature of the Iranian program.

(Quick aside. In fairness to the New York Times‘s Richard Bernstein, he did acknowledge that Tuesday’s briefing by the IAEA’s Goldschmidt was “virtually certain to be seized on by the United States as further evidence of what Washington characterizes as Iranian duplicity in concealing what the United States believes to be a nuclear weapons program. The American delegation is expected to speak to the agency’s board on Wednesday,” Bernstein added. Though in fairness to the truth, it already was Bernstein himself who had seized on the Goldschmidt briefing as evidence of Iranian duplicity that, quite frankly, is not supported by the text of the briefing.)

Observe how flagrant the lies of the Americans are as we encounter them here. Perhaps expressed nowhere in as doctrinally a pure form as when Jackie Sanders said this morning in Vienna: “The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations.”

Further proof not only that the IAEA is simply not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations.

But that Iran is pursuing clandestine nuclear weapons at undeclared locations.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1970-
Agreement Between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (INFCIRC/214), May 15, 1974
Model Protocol Additional to the Agreement(s) Between State(s) and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards (INFCIRC/540), September, 1997
List of State Parties to have signed the Additional Procotol

In Focus: IAEA and Iran

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2004/83), November 15, 2004
Communication dated 26 November 2004 received from the Permanent Representatives of France, Germany, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United Kingdom concerning the agreement signed in Paris on 15 November 2004 (a.k.a., the Paris Agreement, INFCIRC/637), November 15, 2004
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2004/90), November 29, 2004
Statement to the Board of Governors,” Pierre Goldschmidt, International Atomic Energy Agency, March 1, 2005

Russia fuels Iran’s atomic bid,” Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, February 28, 2005
Iran and Russia defy US by signing nuclear fuel deal,” Anton La Guardia, Daily Telegraph, February 28, 2005
Iran stands firm on ‘right’ to enrich uranium,” Gareth Symth, Financial Times, February 28, 2005
Wary Israelis keep close eye on Iran threat,” Harvey Morris, Financial Times, February 28, 2005
IAEA chief ready to serve another term,” Stephen Fidler, Financial Times, February 28, 2005
Russian deal will send nuclear fuel to Iran soon,” Nick Paton Walsh, The Guardian, February 28, 2005
It’s time for us to give up the nukes,” Roy Hattersley, The Guardian, February 28, 2005
“Russian Agrees To Supply Nuclear Fuel to Iran,” Anne Penketh, The Independent, February 28, 2005 [$$$$$$—see below]
“Iran-Russia deal to fuel tensions with US,” Daniel McLaughlin, Irish Times, February 28, 2005 [$$$$$$—see below]
Russia, Iran Sign Pacts on Nuclear Plant,” David Holley, Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2005
U.S. Reviewing European Proposal for Iran,” Steven R. Weisman and Nazila Fathi, New York Times, February 28, 2005
Pressed, Iran Admits It Discussed Acquiring Tools for Nuclear Arms,” Elaine Sciolino et al., New York Times, February 28, 2005
Bush Weighs Offers To Iran,” Robin Wright, Washington Post, February 28, 2005

Europe should be careful what it wishes for in Iran,” Reuel Marc Gerecht, Financial Times, March 1, 2005
U.S. Weighs Change of Tactics to Discourage Iran’s Nuclear Aims,” Sonni Efron and Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2005
The Force Bush Won’t Use on Iran,” Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2005
Mideast Mix: New Promise of Democracy and Threat of Instability,” Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, March 1, 2005
US considers nuclear U-turn towards Iran,” Bronwen Maddox, The Times, March 1, 2005
New attitudes color Iranian society, culture,” Barbara Slavin, USA Today, March 1, 2005
IAEA Head Waits to Issue Iran Verdict,” Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, March 1, 2005

Iran Yields Little in Talks With Monitors,” Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2005
Nuclear Agency Says Iran Has Blocked Investigation,” Richard Bernstein, New York Times, March 2, 2005

“US says ‘alarming number of unresolved questions’ in Iran nuclear program,” Agence France Presse, March 2, 2005 [see below]
U.S. accuses Iran of ‘cynically’ pursuing nuclear weapons,” Andrea Dudikova, Associated Press, March 2, 2005 [see below]
U.S. Ratchets Up Pressure on Iran Over Atomic Plans,” Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy, Reuters, March 2, 2005
Bush to Consult with Rice on Iran Incentives,” Reuters, March 2, 2005

U.S. must be in deal on Iran’s nuclear program, says Straw,” Tehran Times, March 3, 2005

Iran’s Dire Threat (It might be able to defend itself),” Edward S. Herman, Z Magazine, October, 2004
The Coming Wars,” Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker, January 24/31, 2005

Iran I
Iran II
Iran III

FYA (“For your archive”):

The Independent (London)
February 28, 2005, Monday
SECTION: First Edition; FOREIGN NEWS; Pg. 24
HEADLINE: RUSSIA AGREES TO SUPPLY NUCLEAR FUEL TO IRAN
BYLINE: ANNE PENKETH DIPLOMATIC EDITOR

RUSSIA SIGNED a deal with Iran yesterday to provide nuclear fuel for the country’s only nuclear reactor, enabling the plant to come on stream next year amid US fears that Tehran may be developing a nuclear weapon.

The agreement, signed by the two countries’ nuclear chiefs at the site of the Russian-built plant at Bushehr, in southern Iran, provides for the first consignment of enriched uranium to be dispatched to Iran from Siberia in the middle of next year.

To allay US concerns, Russia has agreed to reprocess on its territory the spent fuel, which can be reprocessed to make bomb-grade plutonium. Speaking at Thursday’s summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia, President George Bush said both sides agreed “Iran should not have a nuclear weapon”.

However, a leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, strongly objected yesterday to the signing of the nuclear fuel deal, which had been expected for some time. He said Russia should not be invited to the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July. “This latest step of the Russians vis-a-vis the Iranians calls for sterner measures to be taken between ourselves and Russia. It has got to, at some point, begin to harm our relations,” Mr McCain said on Fox News Sunday.

But a nuclear expert said the move “should be welcomed. Russia is taking the spent fuel back home. It’s going to prevent proliferation”.

Iran insists it is not bent on developing a nuclear weapon, and the Kremlin says it has seen no evidence of such a move. Neither has the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog which has been monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme intensively for the past two years.

A senior Iranian official recognised earlier this month that Iran would risk devastating retaliation if it were to develop a nuclear bomb. That view has been echoed by the American diplomat who directed the State Department’s Iran desk during the 1979 Iranian revolution. “I don’t think they are really looking for nuclear weapons,” said Henry Precht. “They realise they would be smashed by Israel or by us.”

Yesterday’s development came on the eve of a governors’ board meeting of the IAEA which will review progress on the Iran dossier. Although Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s director general, will give an overview of the Iran case today, his deputy, Pierre Goldschmidt, is expected to confirm in his presentation tomorrow a report that Pakistan offered Iran the makings of a nuclear weapons programme in 1987.

According to The Washington Post, the offer from the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, AQ Khan, resulted from a secret meeting between Pakistani and Iranian officials in Dubai. Tehran has now informed the IAEA that it turned down the offer, but according to the American paper it did acquire some more expensive items by shopping around elsewhere.

A Western diplomat said the Pakistani offer was “the strongest indication to date that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme, but it doesn’t prove it completely”.

The US has been threatening to report Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions, and it remains to be seen how the US delegation will react to the latest revelation about Iran’s earlier contacts with Pakistan.

Mr Bush appeared to rule out referral to the Council when he said in Brussels last week that “we’re in the early stages of diplomacy” on the issue.

Three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, are taking the lead in negotiations with Iran, which has agreed to freeze its uranium enrichment programme in return for technological and trade concessions.

The Irish Times
February 28, 2005
SECTION: World; Other World Stories; Pg. 8
HEADLINE: Iran-Russia deal to fuel tensions with US
BYLINE: Daniel McLaughlin

RUSSIA/IRAN: Russia agreed yesterday to supply fuel to an atomic power station in Iran that the United States suspects of being a front for a covert nuclear weapons programme.

The deal sent another chill through US-Russia relations, just three days after President Bush used a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin to press him on the Kremlin’s commitment to democracy, independent media and the rule of law.

Russia and Iran signed the landmark deal at the $800 million Bushehr atomic power station, which Russian engineers have helped build and which is due to go online before the end of 2006.

“This is a very important event in relations between the two countries and, in the near future, Russian experts will be sent to Bushehr to equip the power station,” said Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency.

“We are planning the physical launch at the end of 2006. About half a year before that the first delivery of fuel will take place,” Mr Rumyantsev said at the signing ceremony.

“Our co-operation conforms with international regulations. Iran observes all the regulations on the prohibition of the spread of nuclear weapons.”

He claimed that the first batch of enriched uranium fuel intended for Bushehr was already prepared in Siberia, and awaiting delivery under a deal that has taken more than two years to finalise. Iran and Russia insist the delay was caused by technical issues, but analysts say US opposition to the project caused pause for thought in Moscow.

Russia insists that the deal signed yesterday obliges Iran to return all the nuclear fuel from Bushehr to Russia, so depriving Tehran of spent fuel which Washington believes it would like to reprocess to use in weapons.

The White House declined immediate comment on the deal, but influential Republican senator John McCain demanded swift sanctions against the Kremlin.

“This latest step of the Russians vis-a-vis the Iranians calls for sterner measures to be taken between ourselves and Russia. It has got to, at some point, begin to harm our relations,” he told US television.

Senator McCain accused Mr Putin of acting “like a spoiled child” over Iran, and of limiting media freedom and curtailing democracy in Russia’s regional elections, and urged the Group of Eight major nations to bar him from its next meeting in July.

“The United States and our European allies should start out by saying, ‘Vladimir, you’re not welcome at the next G8 conference,’” Mr McCain said, while questioning Iran’s claim to only want nuclear energy to generate power for its growing population.

“They’re sitting on a sea of oil, as we know. That alone makes one suspect that they want to have nuclear capabilities for other reasons,” he said.

Britain, France and Germany are representing the European Union in talks aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its own uranium enrichment programme in return for trade and regional security benefits. Many influential people in Washington, however, would like to see Iran brought before the UN Security Council to face possible sanctions.

“We have to give them (the Iranians) a lot of carrots, but the Europeans have got to agree with us that if those carrots don’t work, we go to the United Nations for sanctions against Iran,” Mr McCain said.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is set to discuss Iran at a meeting in Vienna today. A November IAEA report failed to reach a conclusion on whether Tehran was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Agence France Presse — English
March 2, 2005 Wednesday 5:46 PM GMT
HEADLINE: US cites ‘alarming number’ of unresolved questions in Iran nuclear program
DATELINE: VIENNA March 2

The United States cited “an alarming number” of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear program Wednesday and warned that the UN atomic agency cannot put off “forever” taking Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

US ambassador Jackie Sanders told the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has continued to deny IAEA inspectors “the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties” and that Tehran was “cynically” manipulating “the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Sanders, who is based in Geneva but heads the US delegation to the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors meeting in Vienna this week, said “there remain an alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear program.”

Among them are why the Islamic Republic is building a heavy-water reactor that can make weapons-grade plutonium and why Iran was late in reporting on construction of “deep tunnels for storage of nuclear material” at a site that carries out the first stages of uranium enrichment.

Enrichment uses centrifuges to refine out what can be reactor fuel but also the explosive core of atom bombs.

Sanders said the IAEA cannot put off “forever” bringing Iran before the Security Council, something the United States has been seeking for almost two years as it says Tehran is in clear violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“The board cannot ignore forever its statutory responsibility to report this matter” to the Council, Sanders said, according to a text of her comments made available to the press.

The Security Council would have “the authority to require that Iran take all necessary corrective measures, including those steps called for by the (IAEA) board that Iran has failed to take,” Sanders said.

She said these included “the authority to require and enforce a suspension of Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.”

Britain, France and Germany, which agreed with Iran on the enrichment suspension and want Tehran to make this permanent in return for trade and security benefits, joined in the US concern over Iranian failures to report fully.

The European trio said in a statement to the board that “Iran has carried out operations of cleaning and quality control on certain centrifuge components, which has caused us serious concern.”

The trio said they understood the suspension “as a voluntary commitment to suspend all, meaning each and every, enrichment related activity, without exception. We urge Iran to keep to this voluntary commitment.”

Iran says its suspension is temporary since the NPT gives it the right to exploit the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes and that it has corrected all reporting failures.

Sanders said IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei should report to the agency’s board ahead of its next meeting in June, after not having reported to the current meeting, as this would clear the way for action against Iran if necessary.

Iranian delegation chief Cyrus Nasseri told reporters that the United States wanted to get the issue before the Security Council because it “might be in the driver’s seat there” while Washington was isolated at the IAEA.

ElBaradei meanwhile also told reporters it was now up to Tehran to “come clean” on nuclear issues by allowing wider access to IAEA inspectors.

The IAEA has failed in two years of investigation to reach a conclusion as to whether Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

IAEA deputy director Pierre Goldschmidt had Tuesday outlined to the board key areas where Iran is refusing to cooperate with UN inspectors.

These include blocking a follow-up visit to the Parchin military facility where Washington charges Tehran is simulating testing of nuclear weapons.

Nasseri said Iran was not allowing a second visit to Parchin, after a first one in January, in part because it was concerned about information leaks “in view of potential threats of military strikes against safeguarded and other facilities visited by the agency in Iran,” in a clear reference to the United States.

The Associated Press
March 2, 2005, Wednesday, BC cycle
HEADLINE: U.S. accuses Iran of ‘cynically’ pursuing nuclear weapons
BYLINE: By ANDREA DUDIKOVA, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: VIENNA, Austria

The United States accused Iran on Wednesday of “cynically” pursuing nuclear weapons, saying Tehran’s claims that its aims were peaceful constituted willful deceit and required action by the U.N. Security Council.

Jackie Sanders, chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors, also urged North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program and resume negotiations. She pushed Pyongyang to commit to a “verifiable and irreversible end” to its nuclear program and to return to six-party talks.

North Korea “needs to make a strategic choice to step off the dangerous path it has set for itself,” Sanders said as the 35-member IAEA board sought agreement on a statement urging the North to return to negotiations and end nuclear threats.

Sanders’ comments were in response to an agency update on Tehran’s nuclear record after more than two years of examination.

IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said the “ball is very much in Iran’s court to come clean” by cooperating with the agency to clear away lingering suspicions of possible nuclear weapons ambitions.

Sanders characterized the IAEA report as a “startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead and delay the work” of agency experts probing the country’s nuclear activities.

“The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations,” Sanders declared. Tehran, she said, was guilty of “cynically” manipulating the Nonproliferation Treaty and related programs “in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

In urging support for the U.S. drive for referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council where it could face sanctions – which past board meetings have refused to do – Sanders said, “the board has a statutory obligation to so.”

The IAEA review noted that while Iran allowed inspectors an initial Parchin military complex visit in mid-January, the experts’ visits were limited to one site and only five buildings on that site. A new request to revisit another part of the site was refused by Iran on Sunday, the report added.

The United States alleges that Iran may be testing high-explosive components for nuclear weapons, using an inert core of depleted uranium at Parchin as a dry run for a bomb that would use fissile material.

Iran asserts that its military is not involved in nuclear activities, and the IAEA has found no firm evidence to the contrary. The agency also has not been able to support U.S. assertions that nearly 20 years of covert nuclear programs discovered more than two years ago were aimed at making nuclear weapons – not generating electricity, as Tehran claims.

A separate Iranian decision outlined in the review – to block any further probing of possible dual use equipment at the Lavizan-Shian site near Tehran – appeared particularly galling to the IAEA because it effectively shut down one area of the agency’s inquiry.

The State Department last year said Lavizan-Shian’s buildings had been completely dismantled and top soil had been removed from the site to try to hide nuclear-weapons related experiments.

The review also revealed that Iran continues to build a heavy water reactor in the city of Arak that can produce plutonium, despite agency requests to cease construction on the facility.

In addition, it noted delays by Iran in informing the agency that it was building tunnels in the central city of Isfahan for nuclear storage and blips in its commitment to freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.

Iran has suspended work on its enrichment program pending negotiations with France, Germany and Britain. But it repeatedly has said the freeze is short-term, despite hopes that it will fully scrap its plans.

Sanders said Wednesday that nothing short of “full cessation and dismantling” of enrichment activities “can give us any confidence that Iran is no longer producing nuclear weapons.

But Iran insists on its right to enrichment.

“This is something that is not on the table and will not be on the table,” senior Iranian envoy Sirous Nasseri told reporters, saying his country had “gone through blood and sweat and tears” to develop the program. Indirectly backing American consideration of more active support of the Iran-European talks he urged the U.S. administration “to reconsider” its past lack of involvement.

A separate statement by the three European nations engaging Iran expressed “serious concern” at some of the developments outlined by the report. But Nasseri described the still open questions about Iran’s nuclear program as a “few grains of salt … on the verge of being dissolved.”

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