Straw hints at military action against Iran
The International News
LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Tuesday he wanted the standoff over Irans nuclear programme resolved peacefully but did not rule out possible military action.
Asked in parliament if he ruled out such action if Iran did not cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog, Straw said: "We wish to see this matter resolved peacefully. Im not going to predict what is going to happen except to say we have adopted a consistent approach in respect of Iran."
"The UK government has frequent contact with the government of Iran on this subject and weve made clear our serious concerns," Straw told parliament. "Weve also made clear our wish that Iran must maintain complete transparency about its nuclear programmes and comply fully with the demands set out by the IAEA board of governors resolution on December 12."
The IAEA on Tuesday told Iran an October 31 deadline to clear up allegations that it is seeking nuclear weapons stood firm, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei prepared to leave for Tehran. The stern warning came after the Iranian opposition gave details on a secret nuclear installation where it claims the regime is enriching uranium with a view to producing atomic weapons.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told AFP: "There are two phases to our work. The first phase involves Iran providing all the information to us on unresolved questions no later than October 31." Fleming said the second phase entailed verification of the information provided by Tehran.
ElBaradei, IAEAs Secretary-General, was due to arrive in Tehran for a visit on Thursday on invitation of the Islamic republic. The inspectors concerns focus in particular on traces of highly enriched uranium found on two samples they took from a nuclear site in Natanz. http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2003-daily/15-10-2003/main/main14.htm
Here is my pipe dream.
I wish that the British would take the initiative regarding Iran, and form a coalition of the willing, which the US would fully support.
Wednesday October 15, 4:22 AM
Nobel winner defiant as she returns to hero's welcome from Iranian women
Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi was given a hero's welcome from thousands of fans as she returned to Iran, with the human rights activist shrugging off government warnings and immediately calling for the freeing of political prisoners.
"I hope that all political prisoners will be freed," Ebadi, the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to win the prize, told reporters after she stepped off an Iran Air Boeing 747 from Paris.
"This prize is not only for me, but for all those in favour of peace, democracy, human rights and legality," said a visibly emotional Nobel laureate, who almost fell to the ground in the crush of people who turned out to greet her.
Ebadi, 56, was given the prize last Friday for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, particularly for women and children in the Islamic republic. Her defence of dissidents and campaign for legal reforms has earned her the wrath of Iran's religious right.
Some 10,000 people, a majority of them women, had descended on Tehran's Mehrabad airport for the homecoming of the petite and softly-spoken jurist, with bumper-to-bumper traffic bringing an area around the airport to a standstill.
Many in the crowd shouted political slogans, echoing Ebadi's calls for political prisoners to be set free, and chants directed against embattled reformist President Mohammad Khatami who earlier Tuesday poured scorn on the value of the prize.
One woman in her 50s, who gave her name as Fereshteh, described Ebadi as an "angel of freedom".
Most women were also wearing white headscarves -- an organising committee set up by supporters of Ebadi to plan festivities for her return had called on women to make the symbolic gesture of wearing white rather than the usual black preferred by the Islamic regime.
For her part, Ebadi was sporting a red headscarf. While in Paris -- where she had been for a short visit when the prize was announced -- she had again angered hardliners here by not covering her head as Iranian law demands.
Fearing a crush, Ebadi was whisked away but then returned to give a brief declaration to the crowd, many of whom had stood for hours to catch a glimpse of the previously little-known jurist.
"This prize is not for me. The prize is for the great people of Iran," Ebadi said, as flowers were tossed at her. "This prize signifies that the demands of the Iran people for democracy, human rights and peace has been heard by the people of the world."
After a deafening applause, she politely took her leave: "Excuse me for this evening, but after tomorrow I will be your servant, like I always have been."
Earlier, President Khatami broke four days of silence over her prize win, warning her to "pay attention" and pouring cold water on her achievement.
"Obviously I am pleased that a compatriot has achieved such success," Khatami said on emerging from parliament. But, in comments that stunned observers, Khatami added: "The Nobel Peace Prize is not very important, the ones that count are the scientific and literary prizes.
"I hope that Mrs Ebadi, who comes from a religious family and has expressed her love for Islam, will pay attention to the interests of the Islamic world and of Iran, and not allow anyone to exploit her success."
Echoing comments already heard from Iranian hardliners, he added there were "political criteria" behind the Nobel committee's decision.
Since she was awarded the prize on Friday, Ebadi has criticized the slow pace of reforms under Khatami -- who has been increasingly silent on key problems facing the Islamic republic -- and called for the release of political prisoners in Iran.
On Wednesday, she is due to give her first press conference in Iran since winning the prize on October 10.
She has said that she plans to travel to Oslo on December 10 to receive the Peace Prize, which also carries a purse of 1.1 million euros (1.3 million dollars). http://sg.news.yahoo.com/031014/1/3eyps.html